A visit from Spike and Warren on their book interview tour

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Over the weekend author Spike Gillespie and her boyfriend “Warren” the photographer visited our studio to do an interview and photos for Spike’s new book Quilting Art that will be published next year.

kman_fireworks.jpgIt was kind of a whirlwind weekend tour of our life around here, starting with fabulous fireworks behind one of Russ’s sculptures The Kinetic Man on Friday, spending Saturday at the studio looking at quilts and sculptures, then ending up at the lake for swimming, water skiing, and a mad dash through a torrential downpour to get back to shelter. With lots of yummy food and snacks interspersed throughout!

Overall it was a great weekend and a lot of fun to get to know them both, and I was happy to hear Warren say, “Quilting Changed my Life!”

Above is Spike, surrounded by one of Russ’s interactive neon sculptures at the studio after our interview — one of the only photos I remembered to take. I guess when there’s another photographer around, I’m timid about pulling out my own camera!

Trying to Get to Blank

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Finally had to admit that to start a new series of work, I had to get rid of all the old stuff on the walls. So that meant taking down all the old PaMdora quilts that were pinned up on this wall for display for the last group tour.

But it also meant putting away all the little cutouts that I like to leave hanging around. As you can see, I still have trouble giving up everything. How can I give up my precious banana peel, a pink-polka-dot cat, and fuzzy pink mittens? Not to mention the headless dress form wearing vintage ribbons and the PaMdora screen print… Each one pains me to put away, but I don’t know why.

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That’s better. Nothing like a totally blank and boring wall to motivate you to start some new art.

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Finally after ditzing around all day trying to recover my water-stained (only on the bottom edges) pin boards, I get started trying to block in color and fabrics for a new series.

I like to look at the colors and abstract shapes to decide if I have a good design. I think these compositions look sort of static and that worries me, but the idea here is that I’m going to make a series of small quilts to hang around a central concept for an upcoming show in September, so the design of each one will be simple.

Open Space, New Projects and Fear

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When I redid my office, I wanted a blank slate — with big project tables and open space to think up new projects. Then I saw a documentary about the architecture of a traditional Japanese house, and I understood what I had been striving for. There is no assigned function for rooms. The objects that are brought into the space define the function of the space.

Here’s one of my project tables, a little cluttered, but flexible space to work. Glass shelves held up by glass bricks, a piece of rusty metal for a magnet board. I’m thinking about painting the wall with magnetic paint (actually it’s not magnetic, it just makes the wall metallic so that magnets stick to it. Anyone tried that stuff?) But I don’t want to hang art on it. I like the white wall, like cloud, like a dream that hasn’t yet developed.

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On the other project table, I’ve brought in a small pin board to study my research. The internet is great for research, I especially am loving Flickr for inspirational photos. Photos like this or these. I don’t copy the photos into my art, only use them as inspiration for things to draw.

Working with new ideas is fun, exciting, but also scary. I wonder if I can really make my crazy ideas work… they seem pretty good in my head, but when I try to write about them or make them real, not sure how well that’s going to work.

Portable Drawing Door Table

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Now that the really hard physical work is over, we’re having fun arranging areas of the newly renovated offices and gallery.

Here’s a drawing desk I built using an old black door and some dusty sawhorses I found in the warehouse. I like that the hinges are still attached (except when I busted my ankle on one as I was moving the door into the room). The door knob is still attached to the other side, which makes is easy to carry around.

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Last week while I was recuperating from the painting marathon, I decided to do a to-do-list drawing or collage (more on that tomorrow) each day along with the silly rule that I couldn’t open my laptop until it was done.

We know how well that worked — I’m way behind on emails and blog posts. That silly rule is hereby tossed out the window, and this week I’ll try to remedy my email backlog.

And Now for Something Completely Different

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At our old house, we had a fish pond with lots of beautiful koi fish with names like Casper, Skeletor, Wabi, Goldilocks, and the Sharkey Brothers. One day a fish appeared, it wasn’t a koi so we suspected that someone who had tired of their aquarium had graced our pond during the night with this contribution.

We named the fish Nessie, because it only appeared close to the surface infrequently, maybe once a month, like the mysterious Loch Ness Monster. When Nessie did appear, she would swim sideways. Someone told me this might be due to a problem with her air-bladder — something I guess fish have to help them move through water?

Anyway, sometimes I think artists are a little like Nessie. They disappear sometimes for a long time, and then when they do appear, they swim sideways.

I guess I’ve been on the bottom of the pond, probably for longer than ever since I started this blog about three years ago. Now I’ll try to get you caught up, and to start off, we’re doing something completely different….

white paint. Those of you who have been to the studio know it was packed full to gills with color. Now it’s going all white. As in White.

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Studio Makeover Continues

red_lamp2.jpg Here’s the retro red lamp I found at a flea market yesterday. As the new bamboo floor goes in, I’m getting more and more excited about the possibilties of the new aesthetic that we can play around with in our front offices.

My office is finished! because the floor guy was a real sweetheart and agreed to work all weekend to try to finish up.

Now what to do with the walls? As you can see, the bottom of the walls have been patched after damage from the flood, but the color is the old style. We were thinking white walls, but that may be too bland. Also the doors have to be replaced.

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In case you don’t remember, this was the old floor before the floor machine crunched it up into little bits. Pretty active, that’s why the intense wall colors.

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I’m loving this new floor and have been walking around in my socks and sitting in the empty rooms. The floor and the glue used to put it down are green — a sustainable strand bamboo from Canada called “Synergy.”

Studio Article in Cloth Paper Scissors

cps_studios1.jpg I can’t believe April is already half over, and I haven’t yet told you about this article. Last December Patricia Bolton asked me to submit some information about my studio for a special edition of the magazine Cloth Paper Scissors.

Having a lot photos for this blog and just general shutter-bugitis, I sent some in with a brief written tour.

cps_studios3.jpgcps_studios2.jpgSo here’s the result. You can pick up a copy at bookstores, or order online here. There’s lots of fabulous studios featured, I’m loving Jane Davila‘s studio and of course, Sara Lechner‘s — had to crack up at her story of buying 75 sets of shelves. And I thought I was crazy!

Also lots of great organizational tips for studios. Seems ironic that the article would come out just as we’re trying to finish up renovating the front of what CPS calls the “art factory,” but never fear — the part in the magazine remains true to the photos, so you’ll be seeing the real deal.

Meanwhile I’m sooo excited, can hardly wait until tomorrow when they will start installing the new bamboo floor in the front offices. Hope the finished product is worth all the agony of moving out again and the dust and noise.

We’re going for a complete change of aesthetic — more like a gallery feel, so it will be fun to have something different and better for photographing art than the old orange-black floor (it has been Halloween 24-7 for eight years — enough already!)

How to Choose a New Floor

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It’s been busy lately at the studio, trying to get our renovating done for a big May 1 deadline. Yesterday Mochi dropped her bone to vote for the new studio floor. Looks like she votes for the darker color.

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Wait a minute! In another room, she changes her vote. How come dogs get more than one vote in the great flooring debate? ….hmm, muddy paws, shedding hair, and scratchy toenails. Oh yeah, real life is not a democracy.

Back in the Groove

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Nice monitor huh? Got for my birthday, and it plugs into my laptop to give me two screens for drawing and looking at reference material.

Drawing for quilts is different than just drawing, because I have to remember that eventually it will be used as a pattern, and that I have be able to construct everything that I draw.

Thanks Grace Matthews for this post which quotes Faith Ringgold, “Underestimation is a psychological tactic for artists. When you employ this tactic you convince yourself that the upcoming project is not really so big or so bad, that it will not take much time and that in fact it’s a piece of cake. This method of trickery helps you to tackle the biggest of projects and makes the project less daunting and more manageable.” This is a great idea and has helped me getting started tackling some projects I’ve been worried about.

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But most important, little friends and good music help oil the creative machine. Right now I’m listening to Lemon Jelly.

The Art Cart and Drawing a Blank

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Arrgh, going nutso here. I haven’t gotten any good drawing done for quilts since my drawing room was exploded last year. Last December I loaded up this cart with drawing and painting supplies so I could wheel it into whichever room I wanted, but still can’t get settled anywhere. I feel like an unwanted candy striper at the hospital.

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Still trying to find a quiet spot to work, I moved some of my stuff back into my old office even though the floors are still not finished and the bare concrete is cold and hard on my legs. You can see a bit of my new glasses. I was getting a lot of bizzarre reflections inside them, took them back to the shop and had the edges sanded off. Now I have a whole new view!