A small painting studio is cozy

With one day left to finish my painting for the Open Doors invitational, I had to organize quickly. I wanted to work on my painting by natural light and in the a/c (my quilt studio is not air conditioned.) By smushing things a bit, there was room to set up small painting studio in my office.

The little drafting table was just the right size for the canvas. Conveniently it fits over the top of my old metal accounting desk. A stainless steel bus cart is a great palette-holder, and the wheels turn on a dime — which is great in such a tight space.

small painting studio

Plus with this arrangement, I can turn my laptop around if I want to check some details for the painting. A cozy arrangement indeed! I just might leave it this way for a while. Although I’ve already delivered the painting to the gallery, I won’t show it on my blog until after the opening reception tomorrow night.

Twelve Tips for organizing your sketchbooks


Over the past few years I’ve been trying to get into the habit of keeping a visual journal or sketchbook, but now I find myself wondering how to deal with the rather disorganized pile of sketchbooks I’ve accumulated. So I posted the question on my last post of how to organize them, and was surprised at all the helpful suggestions I got in the comments section. Here’s a short summary:

  1. Date your sketchbooks and individual pages (several people suggested this, and I now when I look back to older sketches, wish I had done it.)
  2. Cut and Paste –“Forget neat signatures and just cut and paste to your heart’s content until you get the cohesive story you want” thanks to Kristin.
  3. If you use spiral sketchbooks, you can take the coil out and reassemble them in a different manner, said Gwen.
  4. Leave the first 2-3 pages in the book blank to leave room to write an index to specific pages. “On ‘continuing saga’ projects, I also write all the pg#s and ntbk info at the top of each page. Sounds kind of anal I know, but I got tired of hunting all over the place for patterns and design solutions.” said Ceci. (some people also wrote an index at the back of each sketchbook, or just inside the cover.)
  5. “scan spreads and then upload and tag them on Flickr so they can be organized by topic/theme, etc.” said Carolyn.
  6. Several people mentioned that they keep different sketchbooks for different topics — i.e. art quilts, travel, home decor ideas, book design, etc.
  7. “Sticky note tabs to mark specific projects within a book.” said Loreen
  8. Scan or photocopy sketches to assemble into “new books of their own (japanese-style, maybe), or make them into accordion books. These can be organised by project, or topic, or date, or whatever” said Margaret.
  9. “Got a bad journal page?- rip it out, paint it black or paste something else over it.” Sounds like a Rolling Stones song, but good advice, Sandy!
  10. If you add or paste stuff into a sketchbook that is hard-bound, cut out a few pages to allow room for the added bulk. (I’ve been thinking about pasting in some of my fabric experiments.)
  11. Use different sizes and journals with different types of covers to distinguish them for different projects or trips. Or make different looking covers, suggested Dijanne.
  12. “Sew the signatures together…and cover it…you might try this http://michaelshannon.us/makeabook/index.html” wrote Margaret.

Almost forgot to say, Thanks everyone for all your comments and suggestions!

Sketchbook Mania

sketchbook_mania.jpg It’s kind of embarrassing how many half-filled sketchbooks of all shapes and sizes that I have laying around. As I’ve gotten more in the habit drawing, I tend to pick one up and carry it around in my purse for a while, then lose it in a stack of books. Then start another.

sketchbooks_cathedrals2.jpgBefore now, I never much cared about the lack of continuity, but on this last trip I did so many drawings I was wishing that I had dedicated a new book to it — so that I would have one of those cool travel art journals I see in art books and magazines.


Then I did a few drawings of this family, but messed up the page in between — and had the idea to cut it out, leaving the only the dad’s hand, kind of like a pop-up book.  And that was that. Started cutting up the whole thing.


Moleskine sketchbooks are great because you can cut the threads between signatures and scrape the glue off the back, and have a nice open page. I’ve done this before to frame some sketches, but have never tried to reassemble them into a new book. Now I’m in a quandry how to resolve this.

And I’m noticing how some of my ideas are scattered across many sketchbooks in a very disorganized way and wishing I had a way to keep certain project ideas together.

How about you? Ever cut up your sketchbooks, or do you dedicate certain books to themes to keep your drawings organized. Or do you even care?

Drawing people at dinner


These are some drawings of people we traveled with or met on the trip. They’re character sketches, so don’t look exactly like the real people.


At dinner people sort of sit in one place, but don’t pose. These are my composite impressions of people as they move and talk naturally. It’s a challenge to do quick sketches in ink (a Sakura Pigma Brush Pen), but also kind of fun. Most only took a few minutes.


Then some I gave light watercolor washes for a little color. If you’re going to do this, first be sure your ink is waterproof (one reason I like the Sakaru pens) or fix the ink so it doesn’t run (unless that’s the effect you want).


It might be fun to interpret these into fabric sometime later, like I did to this guy. Looking back to that post, I think my drawings are getting better after much practice!

Clay and Hearts


Remember last year when I mentioned being struck down by ceramics by Lisa Naples? It was one of the those epiphany moments for me: Whoa — clay being used with texture, color, words, and images!

>>>Update: Some how I missed linking to Lisa Naples main website here! Thanks Andy! <<<

After that day I talked a lot around here about getting back into making stuff with clay. Not that I plan to stop making quilts. But I’m interested in bringing to it some of my ideas and things I’ve learned over the past few years.

So guess what appeared under the Valentine tree last weekend? A whole set of clay-making stuff — a wheel, kiln, clay, bunch of glazes, and hand-tools. My sweetie found a ceramics studio that was going out of business and got a truck load of great stuff at auction. What a surprise to find the whole setup in our studio!


I’ve gotten a lot of metal hearts over the years, but this the first time for a clay heart. What a great guy! I can’t figure out how he got it all here, and I’m pretty overwhelmed.

What is humor?


What is humor? I been thinking about this question since I was asked to juror the show for SAQA called “Sense of Humor” (see last post for more details.)

I’m not going look in some dictionary and give you the definition, I don’t even know what a real definition is — I just have my own personal definition: humor is thinking outside of the box. And here’s another one: creativity is thinking outside of the box.

What was it they told us in algebra? When A=B and C=B, then A=C. You do the math. Anyway, that’s just my own take on things.

The above photo was taken at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art last October at this event on my blog. The artist: Jeroen Nelemas. The art is not the man in the photo, it’s the installation made of grass, astroturf and metal grid called “Six Feet Above.” When you climb the steps, then turn around and look out, this is what you see looking out from “Six Feet Above” to the biggest exhibition space at the center.


The thing below is another artwork by Keith Lemley called “Hovercraft.” Also not as it appears at first glance. You have to experience it. Here’s the directions. hovercraft_directions.jpgAnd here’s me doing my Silver Surfer impression — it really does float and move around, but not recommended after a glass of wine at the opening. Or maybe that’s when it’s best.


That thing hanging behind me is another installation by Vanessa Tomczak and Carl Bajanda. The little gizmo at the bottom very slowly unknits the long white hanging scarf(?), you can see the pile of unknitted yarn at the bottom.


Here’s some details. Click to make big. vanessatomczak_carlbajanda2.jpg

I loved this show and my whole experience at the UICA. Just curious, does anyone else think this stuff is funny?

Collages for the Creamery


When our studio flooded, a lot of framed art got ruined. Since the Creamery Arts Center has lots of odd spaces, I cleaned the old frames and designed some collages to fit into them for the show.


Here’s the finished quilts in the show, but for fun I included some framed pages from my sketchbooks to show where the ideas come from.


“Paris – wish you were Hair.” The old vintage postage from my collection is from 1904 and someone wrote their postcard message on the front of the image.


“Seattle, the Space Needle – wish you were Hair”. Haven’t done the quilt for this this idea yet.


Actually, I drew this idea for “Twin Bridge”, then happened to find the postcard that matched. ooohwaa!


We had this really huge frame, so I put my actual pattern for “Athens – wish you were Hair”, with alternations into it. There was a little extra room, so I added some sketches and graphic inspirations at the bottom.


This one I called “Elements of an Art Quilt” because I included a stitch test for “St. Louis – wish you were Hair” to try out the effects of different thread colors on fabrics (and left the edges unfinished so that the astute observer could see the top layer, batting and backing), some graphic research and inspiration images, a pastel pencil practice for stitch patterns, and a wad of thread I picked up off the floor of my studio.

The little drawing in the corner gives a clue what “King Tut” (a variegated quilting thread) is because I used the reference in the labels on the stitch test on the left.

Jason Pollen workshop at studio


The weekend of the ThreadLines opening reception, Jason Pollen led a two-day workshop called “J-o-i-n-i-n-g-F-o-r-c-e-s.” Each day he led a series of different drawing exercises on black and white double-sided paper.


This was the most complex exercise, prefaced with discussions of astrology and self-control, a random drawing and a self-controlled analytical response. This was probably the thing that I most took away from the class — a strong reminder that in drawing, every mark should be a response to the previous marks. I later tried to apply that also to some of my experiments in fabric.


Drawing with graphite and chalk were followed by creating small experiments in texture with this clear gesso paste, which were then painted, stitched and otherwise altered any way we wished.


Clearing out the space for twenty people to work in the shop was a job, but created a great creative environment. And  having one of Russ’s neon sculptures flickering in the background probably played into our minds as people often used works like “charged” and “electric” and “shimmering” during wordplay exercises.


We brought my pin boards out the fiber room to pin up and look at the drawings.  And the most wonderful tool of all is hard to see, but check out the black cast-iron 100+ year old paper cutter — great for chopping up big drawing papers into excercise-sized pieces for the group. Russ got that at an auction a few years ago when a school tablet and sketchbook factory up the street went out of business.


For a wrap-up, I cleaned off one wall of the gallery so everyone could tape up their work and discuss it. (except for the squiggly aluminum wall piece – couldn’t get that off the wall.)


Jason didn’t much like our fluorescent lighting, but really we just got the floors and walls done, lighting is next on the list.

Jason was amazingly good at challenging each one of us and providing a broader context to think of working with fiber — a weekend well spent. For photos of some of the work done in the class, check out the Uncommon Threads post here.