White Powdered Donuts

Yesterday I was late again to the studio. If I had a real boss, I’d be fired by now. But Russ and I spent the morning taking our old boiler apart. It’s broken and the old part of the house is sucking the heat from the rest of the rooms. I liked learning about how the system was supposed to work, even if I’m helpless to fix it, at least I’m a smarter helpless person.

Which reminds me of one reason my husband and I get along so well. I have a great talent for taking things apart, but not much skill at putting them back together. Russ on the other hand, can fix anything — computers, cars, machines, you name it.

We met in a university sculpture class. Maybe it was fate, we were both auditing the class (meaning no credit, no grade). The first day I was sitting there, eating those little white powdered donuts for which I have a real weakness. I saw this guy looking at me, and became self conscious. It’s hard to eat those donuts without getting the white powder all over yourself. So, embarressed, I offered him one. He said it was love at first sight!

Our first date was for jalapeno and mushroom pizza. Our second date was to the hardware store.

Later one evening when we were dating, we were driving in an old truck to pick up some firebrick to build a ceramic kiln. He asked me what I wanted out of life. I can’t even remember what I said, something like “to make art, to live in a cool old neighborhood near a university, to travel and have fun…” The next day he asked me to marry him. I guess I said the right thing.

As to where and how he asked me, well that’s a story for another day…

Slugfest (with fabric)

The reason I called it a slugfest yesterday: I have all these great fabrics on the shelf screaming for attention. When I’m laying them out on my design table, I always feel like it’s big fight between patterns and colors, but it’s survival of the fittest. I’m waiting to see if the pink and purple polka-dots knocks out the blue and orange plaid.

For my current project, I wish I had more shocking pinks. I only have a few good ones in the semi-finals. I know many artists only use their own hand-dyed fabrics. but I love plaids, polka-dots, and stripes and avidly collect them. There’s just something funnier about a plaid pretzel than a plain old orange one.

Humor is a strange and mysterious thing. Why for example, are some words funny and others are not? When I was first thinking about doing a yoga quilt, I thought “Yoga” or “Pilates”. Yoga just sounds funnier. Pretzel sounds funnier than rice cracker. At least to me, and maybe I’m all alone here?

72 Art Quilts & 1 Drawing

Yoga 101-Pretzel Pose

This morning I did yoga in front of the big window again, and the falling snow was mesmerizing. It was beautiful last night also, falling heavily as I left the studio. This is the first snow we’ve had this year.

Yesterday I was feeling like I got a whole lot of nothing done, because I’m so wanting to finish some work for the show — but instead, two remodeling jobs in progress, ordering new signs, three heaters malfunctioning…PLUS an hour talking to a reporter about the show, a newspaper photographer in my studio, and typing the list of all our quilts for the show. Here’s the exciting thing:

72 WORKS OF ART! I had no idea we would have that much! Not that we’re going to hang all that, but it gives us a really good base to select from. I’m so excited!

At the end of the day, I finally printed out a pattern for one of my yoga sketches. I hadn’t thought it was very good, but seeing it life-size on the wall (30 x 49) got me so excited that I stayed late to do a color study. Here’s a drawing, although I still have to work on a few things.

Today I’m going to work all day in the studio, first to start pulling fabric for the design. I imagine it will be a slugfest as usual.

Pumped from using the Sewing Machine!

With a nod to Dilbert, my favorite cartoon besides Calvin and Hobbes, PUMPED so much describes how I felt after yesterday’s meeting of our art quilt group. I was so impressed with the amount and the quality of work we have been able to bring together in a short time for our BIG SHOW.

Of course I expected Lucy to show up with a gazillion huge quilts, but even I had to ask her how she got them all in her car. Then there’s Merrilee, who broke her leg very badly in November. She had to learn to run the foot control on the sewing machine with her left foot, and still produced two new bumble bees and one new fish.

Lettie was the sleeper. I knew that as a watercolorist, she had all the right skills to make great quilts. But she showed up with the most gorgeous landscape quilts, I couldn’t believe she had learned those skills and created several show-stoppers in one month.

It’s so amazing this show is happening, considering we only walked into the gallery in December, yes armed with with a group portfolio, some sample quilts, and the promise of a newspaper article, but unrealistically asking for a show in February. Here’s our classy card:

It’s been a lifetime dream of mine to have a gallery show. There’s no way I could do this alone, and it’s so much more fun as a group. And at yesterday’s meeting the arts writer showed up to look at all the work and interview some of the artists, so our feature newspaper article is on track too. As my nephew would say “Awes!”

I can’t wait to get some photos of the show here and on my website, so stay tuned. Until then, there’s the vital data:

Uncommon Threads: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art Quilts

featuring ten regional fiber artists: Lucy Silliman, Pam RuBert, Emmie Seaman, Merrilee Tieche, Susan Leslie Lumsden, Cathy Jeffrey, Diane Kelsay, Lettie Blackburn, Maureen Ashlock, Rosemary Claus-Gray.

Hawthorne Galleries

214 East Walnut, Springfield, MO 65806
February 3-26, Tues.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Artists’ reception and demonstrations Feb. 3, 5-8 p.m.
First Friday Art Walk, Feb. 4, 7-10 p.m.

Yoga, the Moon, and the Zone

This morning the old 1904 part of the house where I normally do yoga was freezing! I guess the radiator heat system is broken. Not being able to do my yoga there, I moved my mat, quilts, and other yoga props into the new part of house.

At first I was disgruntled by the uneven terra cotta floor, which I blamed for not being able to do my balance poses, (handy excuse). But over the next forty-five minutes, I realized that I was fortunate to be able to watch the full moon set across the winter sky through the big glass wall in the family room.

Every time I looked up from a pose, the moon had moved a little more, and as it moved behing the winter trees, I saw how big it was. That huge white circle in the dark sky reminded me of a poem I wrote about a winter moon in high school. I always did a lot of creative writing when I was younger. I think the first story I ever wrote was called “I am a Pickle.”

But as a kid I always struggled with the concept of being a writer versus being an artist. It was so unfair, writers could have their work reprinted by the millions and could be experienced by so many people. Artists on the other hand, I thought, could only have one original that would be experienced by a limited audience. And the visual arts were undemocratic too, because buying or owning a work of art was much more expensive than buying a paperback book.

I suppose recently those internal arguments have been softened a little by computers, the internet, and other digital media. And recently I have been working more writing into my artwork in little devious ways.

But back to the moon. I have never watched the moon set, and I think it put me into the Zone. I think the Zone is a meditative state of mind, or maybe a kind of out-of-body experience. Athletes talk about the Zone, artists talked about a creative mental state, yoga masters try to reach some kind of bliss, but I think it all might be a similar experience.

Sometimes I can get into the Zone when I draw or paint. But sometimes I’m not sure how I get there, it seems to happen accidently. All of a sudden I’m just there, and then I write or draw some of my best stuff. One time I was eating lunch, I think it was a hot dog and Campbell’s soup, and suddenly I got up from the table and wrote one of my best poems ever.

I guess that’s one reason I started this blog. I’m not sure how to get to that place where I create the best, but I’m always searching. I could try writing after yoga each morning, but if I add that to my current regima, even though I’m getting up at 5:30 I might never make it to the studio before noon.

I shouldn’t even be writing this right now, because I have a full day with four meetings scheduled, the biggest one being the art quilt group meeting where we are going to review all the work for our show. But you know, probably a lot of great art would never have been created if people always did what they “should.” Not that this is great art. But hopefully it’s on the road to making some…..

Sushi Zen WIP

sushi octopus
It’s been really frustrating all week. I have all these ideas, lots of work to finish, and the group show coming up–but I haven’t been able to get any significant time in the studio. For some reason, my phone has been ringing non-stop with business calls, whah whah whah!

Anyway, I really am about to wrap up the quilting on my Whine and Dine at Sushi Zen, and then I’ll just have to put a border and hanging sleeve on it. Here’s a few morsels, not the full image. I’ll post that on my website when I’m done.

Oops, just noticed I haven’t sewn on the octopus eyes yet. Oh well, just imagine them.

sushi sumo

I’ve been taking little snapshots of different areas of my big quilts, and it has convinced me that my friend Emmie is right. I should do some smaller quilts with just a couple of figures. Think I’ll do that with some of my yoga ideas, before I launch into a big one.

Cartoons in the Mail

Spent another day futzing around with the postcards I’m sending out about our group show at Hawthorn Gallery. I don’t know why I have to be so picky, but as I was stuffing the cards into neon-colored envelopes, I suddenly realized that once people opened them and tossed the envelope, they would no longer have my phone #, address, or website.

So I designed a big sticker to add to the postcards with all that information, plus a bonus cartoon. My theory has always been that people will always read the cartoon first. I was actually very proud of figuring out how to overprint the color on the Avery labels so my cartoon has a full-bleed. Ho ho, more fun with common office products.

I know I spend too long on these mailings, but I really feel that they are like little gifts I’m sending out to friends and family in the mail, and I like them to be just right. I especially like picking out pretty stamps at the post office. These cards will be mailed with the New Year’s Lunar collector stamps.

So now it’s back to Office Max to get more neon envelopes…

The Crane Beast


I was waiting for Russ to come home for dinner. And waiting. And waiting. Finally I called him, and he wasn’t coming home because he was trying to move the crane from the front of the studio to the back when it stalled. In the middle of the intersection in the street. So he stayed at the studio until midnight trying to get the crane running again.

It really is a beast of a thing, and especially frightening when it’s stuck in the middle of the street. I have this fantasy of someday getting some spray paint and fixing it up really arty and painting “The Beast” on the side.

Sometimes it’s very interesting being married to a sculptor.

Magic Carpet Ride

I’ve been interested in learning creative meditation, so I decided to make up my own Meditation story. Today after my daily yoga routine, I lay on the floor and day-dreamed this magic carpet ride.

I’m wearing a long white nightgown with puffy sleeves, my hair long and flowing. There are silver rings on my toes and the carpet is a thick, soft Persian carpet in deep purple and red colors.

I’m floating in a blue sky with little white fluffy clouds on the horizon. I’m a little hungry, but not worried because there’s a refrigerator on my magic carpet and it’s filled with all my favorite foods. A little later I’ll sit up and eat something with Charlie and Mary, who I just realized are on the magic carpet too.

The carpet is squishy soft with what seems to be hills and valleys, and I just now realize that I’m as big as a mountain and I’m really laying in hills of soft grass. Then I get up and eat breakfast.