Monday, October 31, 2016

sparking creativity

 the three day 

"spark your creativity challenge"

hosted by brittany of the weaving workshop has come to an end - well, perhaps the prompts have ended, but we've already formed such a delightful group and people are still posting away - i know i will in the days and weeks ahead
after all, this challenge did exactly what was intended

i am fired right up, let me tell you

the second day found us working with line and shape, one set of sketches using circles, the other straight lines
one from each group to be coloured

i thought at first that i would enjoy the circle challenge more - not even a bit
i found it difficult

i was way happier doing the straight lines, but as i type this i wonder if part of that might not have to do with them being done after the circles, when i was warmed up, knew what i didn't like

my favourite of all was the coloured blocks

i started by drawing drawing squares and rectangles, all inter-connected/overlapping
i planned to colour the parts that didn't overlap first and then go back with something different to colour the overlapping areas

that didn't work so well and i ended up leaving them unpainted - loved how that changed the look of the design and reminded me of the value of negative space

 below was a sampling of simple mark-making using straight lines - my inspiration for this was the simple "straight stitch" - a humble little embroidery stitch, the first one i learnt when i was seven, and the foundation for so many of the intricate stitches i love today...

 day three was collage

i haven't done a collage since i was in grade school - scary, but i held my breath and just started ripping things out of the three magazines we were to choose our initial components from

i also had a lovely currier & ives christmas card i had been saving for almost 15 years - a winter scene, beautifully drawn, gorgeous trees, tiny figures, houses and such

i decided to be brave and cut it, eventually slicing it into long strips of varying widths

because this challenge came to me through an interest in weaving i decided to work with weave - loosely, as a starting point

i loved that card and while i wanted to take inspiration from it, i would never want to copy it - i want to do my own work, with my own ideas, my heart...

so - underneath it i placed strips cut from the magazine pages, strips that represent, through their imagery, pattern, style, stitch and story

those four things are the foundation of everything i strive to make and they support the art itself

i was so pleased with how it turned out 

i like how you can see the image in separation now, reminding me of how i am inspired by the work of others, but that i don't recreate it

 i took the off-cuts from the magazine strips and glued them down in a random way, drawing circles and adding pin-pricking
wanting to do something quick, without planning, using various elements from the drawing exercises of the day before

and a reminder...

i have a tendency to over-think my work, to angst over the smallest detail - to always consider the whole picture, at each step of the way
i don't tend to take chances with my work and often find myself afraid of ruining something that i really like

i learned my creative blocks tend to rise from a fear of the unknown or unfamiliar 

i do not like to take chances with my work

yeesh - that was hard to write

i always thought i was an experimental creative, loving to just try things, but as wrote this post i realized that's not quite true - certainly not the whole story

i'm a scaredy cat

i am so, so glad i did this challenge - and if brittany ever offers it again i highly recommend it

three days, wonderful participants, eye-opening exercises


today i'm holding on to all i've discovered as i begin another class

i first did this class in 2012 but time and life took over and the images below are as far as i got
rather than starting over with a new design image, i'm going to continue right where i left off...

but with a whole new approach

Thursday, October 27, 2016

creative synchronicity...

in my ever-present quest for finding my own true creative voice, i signed up for brittany mclaughlin of the weaving workshop's 

"spark your creativity challenge"

a three day challenge where you will be opened up to new creative possibilities

my path here was a little round-about... a few weeks ago i finally decided to join the local spinner's and weaver's guild
i'd been toying with it for a long time, not so much interested in spinning, but very much drawn to weaving
my hesitancy did not come from a place of debated interest - it was a direct result of my husband's constant urging for me to "focus"
{perhaps he hasn't fully come to understand my focus is more about "how" than "what"!}

anyway, i joined and later that night, whilst scouring the internet for all things weaving, i found myself ordering a frame loom from an etsy sellerand joining brittany's site "the weaving workshop" and enrolling in her free introduction to weave class

when the invitation to participate in this challenge arrived in my inbox i didn't hesitate

today is day one and our challenge began with quickly choosing three books from our bookcase{s}
i chose my toile book from the bookcase in my sewing room, the grandma moses one from the night-table, and "a child's garden of verses" from my special shelf on my special bookcase - these are the much-loved stories of my childhood

next was to choose a quote from each book, after which the work began
i use that word "work" pretty loosely, this wasn't work, it was pure joy

 In looking closely at these books, from cover to content, context, even construction, we looked for what drew us - what we enjoyed, and what we could take from them for our own creative journey

some of what i wrote in our facebook group:

these three books have qualities that are imbued in what i strive for in my work - to look at old processes with new eyes, eyes that haven't seen things in only one way, to be fresh and imaginative, and to turn things around on themselves
i love to know the history of a process, skill, technique or product, to embrace that, but also to ignore it
i want to find my own way, creating a narrative that speaks to me, showing me a truth i can't find in the work of others...

how can i call on these books to help me in my own work?

i can look upon them as a testament to the strength and beauty of originality - there is no cloth like toile, but it didn't come about over night; it was the coming together of weave, design, pattern, dye and process that brought it to it's full glory

there are no paintings like those of grandma moses, who refined her style over time but never deviated from what was true for her, resisting the recommendations of others, and improving as much from choosing better equipment and paint as from the experience gained from doing...

there are no children's poems as entrancing as those of robert louis stevenson, written from the author's authentic self, drawn from his own life's experiences and personal observations, using point of view as a powerful tool

these are all qualities i believe to be key in expressing my own creative voice; if i continually make them part of my process, i will surely create what is in my own heart...

and that my friends, was a glimpse at day one
you can join us if you like...

and now for the synchronicity part of this post

two days ago, as part of another class i'm taking on all things paper, i pulled the papers below in anticipation of a book making exercise

as i loaded the images for today's post, i realized the colours of my chosen papers, perfectly match the covers of the books i chose at random this morning

 two days, and two classes apart...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

seeing spots

lately i've been working with colour - completely saturated colour

the fabrics have been collected over the past few years, whenever we went down to visit family in sisters, oregon

the quilt shop there is heavy on the modern side of things and i thought it might be a good idea to break out from my usual choices and hearken back to what i liked during the '70s

bright, happy colour with no rules

i'm making a child's lap quilt, a simple rail fence design with three white panels that will have "fancy-full" flowers appliqued and embroidered

it's been a slow go though

i've pieced the rail fence blocks 
the layout was determined by the amount of fabric i have - no way i'm buying more, so when the blocks were pieced, i flung them out on the floor, moving them around until i came up with a plan

not saying it will stay this way, but it's a start
a guideline, if you will - not a rule...

the flowers will extend across the white panels, design components flowing from one to the other, across seams, no boundaries

so far there's one that has the petals appliqued and outlined with embroidery - the embellishments haven't been done
haven't even been thought up, actually

i did say progress was slow...

a couple of circles have also been added - they'll be centers for future flowers, but yup, you guessed it... not yet invented either

at least i've got a theme sorted out

but while i've been waiting for my brain to sort all that out, i have made some very pretty, spotty, dotty lace

circles of circle fabric, circles of lace, circular stitching

circular holes

 at least i have something pleasant to occupy me while the ideas stew and brew...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

playing about

 lately i've been obsessed with buttons...

remember these ones from a while back?

and this white one?

i still have a hankering to make more of those ones, but lately my mind's been on appliqued buttons

tiny little houses, trees, winter things

below is my first one

 a simple scene, easy enough for a first effort

trying to get a lay of the land, if you will... figuring out how the curve of the button form affects things

i like it well enough but it's just not that intricate - i want more detail

so, i've rooted out my thinnest needles 
size 12 quilting needles are the tiniest i have
and a super fine thread called "invisafil" - having the right tools might help in working with the teeny tiny pieces i'll need to be stitching if i want to create more detailed designs

i've sketched a half dozen different designs, all involving winter scenes... trees, houses, a snowman or two - even a tiny child

 this button is the largest form i can get - size 100, about 2 1/2" across

i have a few 1 7/8" button forms as well so once i perfect my miniature stitching skills on the larger size i'll try my hand at the next size down

the cabin is done with needle-turn applique so it's sturdy enough but the door, window, eaves and chimney are raw edge with a very fine over-cast stitch... i have no idea how they'll stand up to wear and tear, nor what one would actually put one of these buttons on, but then i haven't really given any of that a moment's thought

i'm just having fun making them!

Saturday, October 1, 2016


as promised, here is the circle page with the scratty pin-pricking cut out, replaced with a little bit of reverse applique

i'm seriously considering purchasing a circle punch as it's almost impossible to cut a smooth, even circle with scissors
the buttonhole stitch that is done around the edge (here in white) certainly helps cover some irregularities, but i think being able to punch out a perfect circle would make very happy...

at the lower right you can see the french knot/chain stitch circle - very happy with that -
fiddly yes, but i really don't mind

next to consider is what to do within them - pin-pricking may get resurrected but i'll definitely be practicing that on scrap paper first

and then there's the upper right - a big empty space waiting for something inspired

for now though, i'm working on the first flower, getting the petals appliqued onto the length of white cotton, dreaming of how i'll embroider and embellish it

 and below this is a little watercolour painting i did this summer

i signed up for an online summer painting class a few years ago and this summer i made an effort to re-visit it and try a few of the exercises i didn't get to the first time around

this summer fruit arrangement looked like a fun thing to try and i was amazed at how well it turned out - at least to my eyes
{perhaps that's one advantage to the whole "i'm getting older and my eyesight is getting poorer" situation - my painting satisfaction index has gone way up!}

pears, lemons, cherries, peaches and apricots - the leaves aren't correct but who cares?

not i - i'm pretending i'm mistress mary quite contrary and i'll paint them however i please!
{seems the list of all my favourite blogs to visit has gone away from the sidebar - i'll spend some time tomorrow getting that sorted out and then be around to catch up with all of you - i've missed everyone and can't wait to see what's been keeping you busy}