artist spotlight: agneta gaines

Seen at the Hotshops Artist Studios in Omaha, NE.

Triticum Wheat
44″ x 49″
by Agneta Gaines

artist spotlight: robbi eklow

Robbi Eklow was my first friend during the two years our family lived in Chicago.  She picked me up straight off the airplane while my husband went out for some job stuff. As I recall, we went straight to a bead shop. She now lives in Omaha Nebraska and works at has a public studio in the HotShops. 

I absolutely adore my own new studio but I am an extrovert. I really need to be around people and have conversations in order to thrive. Someday I hope to have a public studio in addition to my home space. someday.

As you approach her studio Robbi’s work is immediately recognizable. Super bright colors, overlays, gears. 

After our teaching was done several other teachers came along for the tour.

Robbi is in the middle of moving her current studio up one floor to a larger space.

What would you do with the space? She and I had some wonderfully fun conversations about quilt hanging apparatus. The walls are brick but the very high ceilings have exposed wooden joists. 

What would you do with space like this?

Artist Spotlight: Deborah Boschert

I’d like to introduce you to a friend and favorite artist of mine.DeborahBoschertwebsite

Deborah Boschert is a mixed media/quilt artist from Texas who is one of those people that you can’t help but like. She is sweet – in the REAL sort of way where you just know that she thinks and feels things deeply and cares about people. I love following her real life adventures on Facebook.

websiteWaning-Cresent-Meditation1Waning Crescent Meditation by Deborah Boschert
60 x 24 inches

I also love the way she layers commercial and hand printed cloth, machine and hand stitching. Her color combinations are usually quiet with just enough spark and contrast to draw me in. There is something peaceful and intriguing about her work and you can tell there is a personal symbolism being used.

greenbowlwebsiteGreen Bowl by Deborah Boschert
40 x 40 inches

This sweet little piece is part of my own personal collection.
IMG_7548Horizon Embraced by Deborah Boshchert8 x 8 inches

You can read more about Deborah at her website.

And stay tuned! On the 23rd I’ll introduce you to her new book and have a copy to give away!

artist spotlight: dona barnett

FullSizeRender-11On my second afternoon of wandering through Asheville’s River Arts District I wandered through another old industrial building converted into a multitude of artists studios. In the main entry a collection of artist works were hung on the walls and one caught my eye. It featured a crow. Have you read Gifts of the Crow by Marzluff and Angell? It’s as much science as literature and tells about how truly intelligent these avians are. There is a crow family that nests somewhere near my house that I love to caw back and forth with. Oh – and I also just happened to be listening to a young adult novel by Tamora Pierce called Trickster’s Choice that features crows as well. She is one of my favorite authors and this set is the fourth series set in the same fictional land. All of them feature young women who choose unconventional paths against the odds. 

FullSizeRender-16Anyway – back to the art. Around the corner more crows caught my eye. This time the layered texture and imagery stopped me short and drew me in. So did the label… I love printmaking and artists who use this art form but wasn’t sure what a collograph was.FullSizeRender-15I wandered some more and in a tiny back corner by the window I was delighted to find Dona at work, carving out a block for a new logo. Flying Rhino Studios. I love it. An ungainly, very much NOT aerodynamic, prehistoric, tough-as-nails creature with wings. In flight. What a lovely metaphor for us – don’t pay attention to what others say you can or cannot achieve. Flight is available to anyone.FullSizeRender-13

I think I might have just developed a new love for these creatures. Rhinoceroses. (Yup – I looked it up.)


Isn’t he sweet? I also asked about collographs. Dona showed me a few of her collograph plates and explained the process. Things are adhered to a plate (grasses, rope, whatever you choose to make your texture with) and then sealed so they are waterproof. Ink is applied but then wiped off before printing with it so that it’s mostly outlines that are printed. There is something extraordinarily beautiful to me about Dona’s layers of texture and pattern. There is a juxtaposition of organic chaos and controlled drawing and pattern. It speaks to me.


The layered transparency of her imagery has a balance of order vs. chaos. It is a quiet kind of almost control.Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 3.57.16 PM

We also ended up talking for a while. Life. Children. Sorrows. Joys. The artwork, the discussion of its creation, making a deep personal connection with another soul – I feel enriched for the experience.


If you are in Asheville, NC I encourage you to treat yourself to time spent wandering the River Arts district. Absorb the art. Take time to stop and chat with the working artists. Tell them why you like their art and ask them questions. Dona is at 375 Depot St. in Trackside Studios… near the back and with a window.

If you can’t make it there take some time to peruse Dona Barnette’s website and enjoy her artwork. Tell her Lyric said hello!

artist spotlight: gavin aung than

I browse the web on occasion… usually following links from here to there that I’ve seen on Pinterest of Facebook. (There hasn’t been time for that for the past few months.) Every once in a while a gem comes through that is worth watching. 
Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 2.30.42 PMIt’s a website where inspirational quotes from famous people are adapted into cartoons. The artist, Gavin Aung Than, is a cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia. After working in the corporate graphic design industry for 8 years he quit his unfulfilling job at the end of 2011 to focus on his true passion, drawing cartoons. Gavin launched Zen Pencils at the start of 2012, a cartoon blog which adapts inspirational quotes into comic stories, and hasn’t looked back since.


I seriously love his work.


My kidlets fight over who gets the tear-out poster from his first book. 24x36_500px_largeI just bought a second copy of it so that I could cut out some of the illustrated quotes and tape them to their walls. You can find his posters here.PHOTO_590

He just announced the availability of his second book, Zen Pencils-Volume Two: Dream the Impossible Dream.  I’ve already pre-ordered my two copies. 

It will include my favorite illustration of a quote from Amelia Earheart: The fears are paper tigers. Than’s illustration brings it to life in a way that captured my heart and my mind! C’mon – go look at it now. Then support an artist who is making the world a better place by buying his book. 🙂 You’ll be glad you did!

artist spotlight – lisa walton


I’d love to introduce you to Lisa Walton, wonderful artist and quilter from down under in Australia. I had the great good pleasure of rooming with her last October in Houston at the International Quilt Festival. She is delightful – and so is her artwork!

Lyric: How did you come to be an artist?

Lisa: I’ve always dabbled but the realities of life took priority for many years. My neighbour introduced me to the joys of patchwork but I couldn’t follow rules or copy other peoples designs. Once I was given my first pack of hand dyed fabric I was hooked. When I started to dye my own, the possibilities opened up. I started to design my own quilts and this just kept taking up more and more of my brain space.


When my children started living their own lives and obligations like mortgages and school fees faded away, my pressures and restrictions lessened too. My creative endeavours led to teaching which I love as well as the friendships of like minded souls. Of course the total support of my husband played an enormous role and eventually I was able to leave the hated day job to just create, teach and exhibit my work. One day my husband was filling out passport forms for me (he loves forms) and when it came to my occupation , he wrote ARTIST! That simple action settled it for me and now I say it with pride and conviction.

party_time_full_600_jpgLyric: Why textiles as a medium?
Lisa: I love the flexibility of textiles, the colours, textures and the interesting problems working in them creates. I prefer the process rather than the end result and rarely repeat anything.

Lisa will be teaching at the Quilters Studio in Newbury Park California ( in April. Take a look at Lisa’s Website to explore more of the lovelies she creates… and if you are down under yourself – she has a fabulous shop full of all kinds of supplies for your own textile art, beading, and surface design explorations.

I have a wonderful copy of Lisa’s book, Beautiful Building Block Quilts to give away.


If you are a traditional quilter and want to take your first steps towards creating your own designs this is a wonderful book for you. You can choose to learn by following her patterns exactly or you can read her guidelines for branching out on your own. She guides you through creating your own geometric block patterns and also includes a few very clear and easy to understand pages about color choices.   You can purchase it here if  you want a new copy. This one is signed to me and somehow has a few chocolate stains here and there on a page or two. Chocolate and quilt books naturally go together right? I should be more careful. You should also check out the other cool stuff Lisa has in her on-line shop… remembering that she is in Australia. Also – friend her on FaceBook so that you can easily keep up with what she is doing.

Leave me a comment and tell me something. Oh – I don’t know – anything. What is the first thing you would visit if you got to go to Australia? Or – if you’ve already been there – what should I see first? I’ll pick a winner in one week.

Artist Spotlight: Lesley Riley


I’d like to introduce you to an artist, who I also count as a friend. Do you know any people that make you happier just by being there? She is one of those people. I also really like her art and especially her philosophy about art.
Say hello to Lesley Riley.
Lyric: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Lesley: Yes! I always wanted to be one but didn’t not think I was qualified. In grade school, I thought you had to be born with the talent to draw realistically, something many of my friends could do, so I thought being an artist was not in the cards for me. In high school I turned to crafts because that was something I could do without drawing. I tried them all (except pottery) and found a home in quilting. I made baby quilts and sold them on consignment at a local artisan shop and gave them as gifts. I made several bed size quilts but didn’t find using others patterns fulfilling. I wanted to be an art quilter but didn’t know how, since I “wasn’t really an artist.”
It wasn’t until much later in my life, after much artistic soul searching, that I decided to combine the three things I loved the most – quotes, photos and fabric. In 1999 my Fragments were born, and so was the artist.
GoodGreen72_lgLyric: Tell me about your journey.
Lesley: Making those first Fragments back in 1999 was the beginning of a truly amazing journey. Following my heart opened many, many doors for me. Opportunities began to appear, things I never dreamed would happen: like being asked to write a book, teach world-wide, be an editor for a magazine, travel to Australia, write 5 more books. 
All those years spent dreaming and trying to figure out HOW to be an artist was paying off. I was ready, willing and able to step up to the challenges that the opportunities provided. I never planned a career in the arts but it found me and I embraced it fully. I am living my dream occupassion.
It’s very important to me to share what I have learned over these last 15 years and a lot of my time is spent doing just that, through my newsletter, online classes and most of all, through one-on-one coaching. I am more satisfied and find more rewards in helping others than in my own successes.
Sub3_lgLyric:  Why have you chosen textiles as a medium?
Lesley: I love the tactile aspect of textiles. I get excited by weave, fibers, the hand and sheen of fabric and most of all, the pattern and color. For me, fabric is an unending source of inspiration. It is always ready for me – something that’s important to a time-challenged creative. I know fabric inside and out. I am comfortable with it. I can make it do what I want. I don’t always have the success in other mediums that I do with fabric so it’s my go-to-girl when it comes to creating.
I do like to challenge myself with drawing and painting, and I love mixed media. But fabric is home. Plus I can paint and draw on fabric. And let’s not forget transfers!
Lyric:  What or who is your inspiration?
BookofMeWeb_lgLesley: When I was trying to figure out how to be an artist, one strong motivation was to be able to, through my art,  create the same kind of effect on others that so many artists had (and continue) to create on me. You know it when you see it – that piece that takes your breath away or gives you that peaceful feeling that beauty and perfection instills. I wanted to know how to do that so that I could give to others what so many artists had given to me. I am inspired by ALL artists who work to make their soul visible.
I now know that not every artist hits it every time, but wow, what a joy it is in trying. But let me be clear, making art that takes your breath away doesn’t happen when you try to make it happen. It is the result of, as Robert Henri states: “being in that state which makes art possible.” 
Which reminds me of another inspiration: quotes. I have a bazillion of them, all gathered in my lifelong study of artists and creativity. Just like in those early Fragments, I am inspired by image, fabric and words of wisdom. One or all three are jumping off points for me. 
Lyric:  Anything coming up you want my readers to know about?
QuotesCoverWebLesley: Thanks for asking, Lyric. I have two things I would like to share with your readers. The first is the publication of my first self-published book, Quotes Illustrated. The book is something I have wanted to do for years, and through this wonderful community of artists, it has now come to fruition. 90 artists took on the challenge of creating art to illustrate a quote I assigned to them. The results are astounding. This book serves two of my life purposes – to inspire and motivate others and to help other artist achieve their dreams.
It is available on Amazon and makes a wonderful gift! 
Another way I provide motivation and inspiration for other creatives is my year-long subscription to 52 Pick-Up. ( Each week an email arrives in your mailbox that, as one reader said, “That’s what you do really well — you say out loud what we know but haven’t been paying attention to. And you make us want to pay attention.”
Sign up now and receive the remaining 2013 PickUp emails.  
Last but not least – on Thursday, December 11th at 1 PM, I will be offering a LIVE webinar with Cloth Paper Scissors: Quickstart Your Art Career ASAP: An 8-Step Artist Success Action Program. 
It’s a condensed, quickstart version of the same plan I use with my private coaching clients to get them going on their dreams. There’s the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the webinar, but if you cannot attend live, you get the full replay of the webinar plus the Q&A session. 
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share myself with your readers, Lyric.

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Melinda Bula

Copy of Best head shotPart of the fun of teaching is meeting your colleagues, which then become your friends. I met Melinda Bula while teaching at the American Quilt Society show in Paducha during what is now affectionately known as the tornado year. We had quite a lovely adventure together, spending an extra day in town after volunteering to get bumped from our flight. You can read about it here.

We have seen each other since but mostly as we rushed past each other on our way to classes. We did sit next to each other for a delightful hour at a reception in Houston and oh my, had she had another adventure! Her class supplies just happened to be on a train that DERAILED!!!  So there she is on the first day of the International Quilt Festival with a room full of students and no kits, no supplies, nothing. I think she might have had her quilts that she flew with.

Yellow daisy -w-jpeg

And here is how I know she is a great teacher even though I’ve only poked my head into her room once or twice to check out what her students were doing. My roomie (also a teacher) said she that Melinda’s students were laughing so loud most of the day that she had to shut her door so that her students in the room next door could hear her teach.

Hibiscus webjpeg

As teachers do, we looked over each other’s products and I came home with one of her patterns. I didn’t intend to make it but wanted to see how she self-publishes them. Who knows, one of these days I might make a few patterns.


I opened her pattern and oh my! You are in for a treat! This pattern is pages and pages of paint/cut-by-number pieces complete with a color chart that makes it super easy to recreate one of her gorgeous floral wall quilts. Her work is simply delicious and the instructions were clear and easy to understand.

Want it?

Leave a comment here telling me what you think makes a good teacher. 

I’ll pick a winner next Monday.

Book Review and Giveaway: Valerie Goodwin’s art quilt maps

I’d like to introduce you to Valerie Goodwin. I have followed her work for several years now as it truly speaks to me. It is organized, beautiful, and deep. And very architectural. I love, love, love it.

architext 1

This might be why. I studied architecture in college but chose not to pursue my graduate degree – Valerie is an architect and a professor at Florida A & M University. Yup – I’ve always wanted to be a professor too. That one might still happen someday. I get such joy watching her succeed and the fact that she has introduced textile art into her own life and ALSO into the life of her architecture students is, well, just SO COOL!


photo 1-17

And now she has a book. It’s my favorite book of the year. Personal taste here – there are a ton of wonderful books out this year but I love this one. Mostly because of the eye candy. I loved reading the very first pages about her quilt history. She learned from her grandmother but left the needle arts behind when she entered the male dominated world of architecture. I am so, so, so happy that she found a way to join these two parts of her life.

The book itself takes the reader through both the mental design process and the techniques and materials you would need to create your own textile maps. If you love project books you can follow Valerie’s methods and instructions in a linear process and be very happy with your results. She gives the reader plenty of information and a clear road map from start to finish.


I tend to be more interested in understanding the thought process behind a good artist’s working method so that I can understand what it is about the work that speaks to my heart. This book is just deep enough to satisfy that craving for me.

photo 3-13

The illustrations feature the clean lines, the layers of subtle texture, and the visual storytelling that I appreciate in Valerie’s artwork. The writing and instructions give me a peek into her process and there were several things that sparked ideas for what I might like to incorporate into my own work.

photo 2-12

I think Art Quilt Maps provides a great balance between “how to” and “why.” I love seeing the work of her students and how they have taken her techniques and internalized them, creating unique works of art.

photo 2-13


Wouldn’t you just love to see this book show up in your stocking?
I’m going to give away a copy to one very lucky reader.
Has your artwork ever been inspired by a place?
Tell me about it here.

I’ll choose one lucky reader on Friday.
Tell your friends and have them come check it out too.
And if you don’t want to wait until then – you can buy it here.

Artist spotlight: Desiree Habicht

Welcome to Christmas! Does it seem to you like this year has flown by!? I blinked and it happened.


Christmas Card by Desiree Habicht

 So… I have a huge pile of interviews, reviews, and giveaways that have been waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting) for me to get around to posting them for you. I am very happy to introduce you to a few more of my very favorite artists.


Desiree Habicht is a multi talented artist working in both cloth and watercolors – and probably other media that I haven’t seen yet. We had a great (email) interview months ago and she has been patiently waiting for me to get around to putting this up. I know you are going to love her art as much as I do!

Lyric: Did you always want to be an artist.
Desiree: Yes, I can say I have always been an artist. My mom often reminds me how I was always making books and cards for people as a small child. They were always fully illustrated too! Everything was fair game and I often sketched on whatever I had close, math homework etc. I was born to create.

tortured soul 001

Tortured Soul by Desiree Habicht
art quilt

Lyric. Describe your journey.
Desiree: I am a self taught artist and was fortunate to have worked with interior designers, professionals and builders doing faux finishes and murals along with my fine art. I worked for years, and as my children got older I was able to travel all over to paint on site . At the point of being almost empty nesters everything changed. In 2000 our daughter was hit by a drunk driver. After 8 months of hospitals and life support we brought our daughter home. She required full time care and all of our lives were forever changed. I was now at home figuring out my new life and saw the TV show “Simply Quilts”. As I watched I was thinking I could do that at home. I started with one quilt class, one night a week and quickly moved into designing my own patterns and art quilts. That led to the opportunity to design fabric which I love. Art is a gift and allowed me to reinvent myself so I could care for Jennifer and still create and work from home. Art is a never ending journey.

 Lyric: Why Textiles?

Desiree: I love textiles, the feel, the ability to create art from fabric and to create fabric from my art! Quilts symbolize comfort and warmth which they provided me in many ways. My art quilts allow me to tell a story or share an event with my viewers. I love putting in hidden elements and symbolism that mean something to me. Textiles also opened up a whole new group of friends and colleagues which I am so thankful for!

Old World Tiles

Old World Tiles by Desiree Habicht
cloth, pastels, painted wonder-under, netting, thread, paint, ink

8404655533_03f1a9d83f_bLyric: Whats coming up that you would like me to share?
Desiree: Right now I have some of my quilts in a book available at Amazon called “Cutting Edge Art Quilts” by Mary Kerr. I also just self published my first pattern book that goes with my latest fabric line ” Gumdrops and Lollipops”. I also have a new fabric line coming out  called ” Monster Trucks” which will be sold by Quilting Treasures and will be available at your local quilt shop.

Lyric: Is there anything else you want me to tell my readers.

Desiree: Yes, I want to encourage everyone that no matter what your facing you are not alone and art, quilting, and creating can be both therapeutic and healing.

Desiree’s patterns, art quilts, art work and workshops can be viewed on my website She sends out a monthly newsletter with upcoming giveaways, classes and shows, that you can sign up for on her website. You can also follow Desiree’s blog,, and see her monthly contribution to The Sketchbook Challenge blog that both of us contribute to along with some other amazing artists!

And now – the first of many giveaways over the next few weeks. Desiree graciously shared a sweet little bundle of her fabric and the pattern book to go with it. If you have any little sweetlings in your life you are going to love this giveaway. If you are anything like me it won’t get done in time for Christmas but I think these are perfect for valentines day!


Leave a comment below – telling me now your art helps you through the rough times.
I will pick a winner on Monday.

Artist Spotlight: Roxane Lessa


I’d like to introduce you to another artist (and good friend!), Roxane Lessa. Her work is always inspiring, and often experimental. It’s always fun to see what interesting and sometimes crazy thing she is playing with at the moment.

She makes the gloriously beautiful botanicals pieces that I just love. Many of them are trees or plants that are all around me in the North Carolina landscape. Often they are large. I really like large… even if I have a hard time bringing myself to work large these days – simply because of time restraints.

Lyric: Did you always want to be an artist?  

Roxane: Yes and no.  I always wanted to be a ballerina, and I did that, but then I had to retrain for a new career.  I went back to college to get a degree in clothing design and textiles.

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 2.39.58 PM

Unopened by Roxane Lessa 40×32

Lyric: Why Textiles as a medium?


Roxane: I have always loved textiles, the textures, the colors, the patterns.  Since I was a little girl, I was always teaching myself needlepoint, embroidery, knitting, anything to do with fiber and textiles.  I love all the possibilities that textiles afford that a flat canvas and paint can not.  Textiles have tactile and 3 dimensional qualities that are easier to manipulate than other media, such as sculpture.



Lyric: Describe your journey to becoming an artist.

Roxane: I took my first basic quilting class in 1998, but by then I was already a pretty competent garment designer and sewer.  I loved the whole process and began making large bed quilts.  But at the same time, I began taking classes from art quilters and making less traditional art quilts.  Exploring with textiles, color and design really go me jazzed!


Lyric: Why do you teach?

Roxane: I began teaching art quilting in 2008, and have learned so much from my students.  Teaching forces me to get clearer and better at all the techniques and design principles just so I can get it across to my students.  At this point, I teach at guilds and in my studio.  I enjoy teaching a small group of dedicated art quilters who are not satisfied with reproducing other people’s patterns.  They have a vision for their own work and, I love to help them make their vision a reality.  My Saturday Art Quilting Salon is a monthly group class that introduces quilters to new techniques they have always wanted to try.  Also, this year, I am opening up some spots for my private Art Quilting Mastery Program.

Do you love her stuff as much as I do!?
If you are in the Raleigh area, you’ll love this
Salon style class with her as well!

IMG_5580This way of building wall sculpture as you go is really fun.  It evolves organically and tests my design skills.  While creating these sculptures, you have to focus on balance, and scale, as well as color.

The Saturday Art Quilting Salon is on!!!!!  We will be focusing on making cool 3-D fan art.


TIME: 10 AM-12 or 1PM

PLACE: ROXANE’S STUDIO, 1237 N. Blount St. Raleigh, NC 27604

FEE:  $45, includes materials and use of my machines and tools.  Bring any fabric, heavier threads, decorative threads, perle cotton, yarns, trims, you want to work with. If you bring a friend, your fee drops to $35, but you MUST RSVP, so I can make sure I have adequate supplies and room.  Pay when you arrive, cash or check is preferred.

If you would like to learn some of these fun techniques and make your own 3-D textile sculpture, email her and let her know.  Space is filling up fast, so don’t wait.  I hope you can make it.

Artist Spotlight: Leslie Tucker Jenison

pic-of-leslieToday I’d love to invite you to meet the fabulous Leslie Tucker Jenison! She is a kind, creative, and energetic artist and teacher. I hope you will enjoy hearing about her journey as much as I have.

Lyric: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?


Leslie: I’ve always been interested in art and spent a lot of time making art as a kid.

I was encouraged to explore art by my parents, but I think they gave me the message that it wasn’t supposed to be a “real” career.  Fortunately for me I was just as passionate about medicine, particularly nursing.  I went through nursing school and practiced as an RN in some aspect of women’s health, mostly as a Labor and Delivery nurse, for many years.  I also taught a lot of community health workshops over the years, such as childbirth preparation classes, a mother-daughter class for pre-teens called “What’s Happening To Me?”, and a wide variety of other relevant seminars and workshops for women throughout their lifecycle.  I loved it!


Amsterdam Alley: The Shortcut Between

Even though my grandmother was a quilt maker, I really caught the “bug” from a nurse colleague in Labor & Delivery back in 1980.

Lyric: Tell me about your journey.

The early years were not prolific for me as a quilter, between working full time, teaching part-time, and raising a family. (Gee, I can’t imagine why!)

It wasn’t until my husband moved his company, Newtek, Inc., to San Antonio that I returned to my deep love of art.  Due to family issues back in Kansas I spent the first 6 years commuting frequently.  Therefore, I did not return to my nursing practice, but rather, focused on picking up a paintbrush.  Eventually, I discovered surface design on cloth and it seemed to marry all the things I loved about working with textiles to paint and dye!  It opened up a new world to me, one that I’m glad to say I have immersed myself in.


Nest by Leslie Tucker Jenison

After the youngest of my three daughters left for college, my studio practice became a full time endeavor and I returned to another love:  teaching.  This time the focus is on mixed-media and stitch.  I limit my workshop travel because I really want to balance that with my studio practice.  I love to write, and have been fortunate to find some opportunities to do that in the quilt world.

I have a wonderful partnership with my dear friend, Jamie Fingal, the other half of Dinner At Eight Artists.  Jamie and I collaborate on several ventures:  we curate exhibitions, teach, and occasionally write together.  Mostly, we are known for having a very good time together wherever we are!  I can say without hesitation that there is never a dull moment when the two of us are in the same city with one another.  We have supported each other as mothers, daughters, artists, and friends through good times and bad.

I consider myself the most fortunate woman on the planet.


Fifty Shades of Groovy by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Lyric: Why have you chosen textiles as a medium?

Two main reasons:  first, and this might seem a bit odd and is probably something I think more about because of my background as an L&D nurse, but textiles are the second thing we experience against our bodies after we are born (the first being touch).  We have an intimate relationship with textiles and therefore I believe they give us a lot of comfort.  The second reason is that textiles, particularly quilted textiles, have what I call a 2.5 dimensional quality.  It makes using them as an art form unique.  Depending on the choice of cloth and style of stitching the cloth/quilt surface can take on a enormous number of characteristics.  I doubt that I will ever grow tired of exploring the possibilities!


Nest by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Lyric: What or who is your inspiration?

I have to say that I’m inspired by so many people and things.  My grandmother always had a needle in her hand, a quilt in the frame, a wedding dress on the form in her sewing room (she was the seamstress in her small town), and my nurse colleague, Edith York, who really took me under her wing and mentored me in the beginning.  Libby Lehman was someone whose work really turned my head the first time I attended IQF in Houston in 1992.  Her work was traditional with a twist:  I was hooked!  I had the opportunity to tell her how much she inspired me as I stood in line with her two years ago awaiting admission to the awards ceremony in Houston.  I have so many talented friends in this wonderful little subculture (you amongst them!) who continually inspire and challenge me.

So much of what I make is inspired by the things I see when I travel, and also in my backyard garden.  The trick is to take the time to really observe.  The sketchbook is a valuable place to document things with notes and sketches.

Lyric: Is there anything coming up that you would like to tell my readers about?

Leslie Tucker Jenison

I truly adore the give and take of the workshop environment.  I’m happy to be teaching a bit more this year at the following venues:

“Not Fade Away:  Sharing Stories In The Digital Age”.

Jamie Fingal and I will be debuting “An Exquisite Moment”, the most recent juried exhibition of Dinner At Eight Artists, at the Long Beach Quilt Festival.

I’ll be teaching a workshop in conjunction with “Quilter’s Take Manhattan” in New York City this fall.  Details and registration will be available soon on the Quilt Alliance website!

I will be teaching at Art & Soul mixed media retreat this fall in Portland, Oregon.


Artist Spotlight: Sue Bleiweiss

me2I’d like to introduce you to an artist I count as a friend, the talented Sue Bleiweiss. She’s the instigator of many projects I’ve been happily involved with including the Sketchbook Challenge and the Artbox CSA. OH, and she makes a lot of really, really beautiful art!

Lyric: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? Tell me about your journey.


Sue: No and in fact I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s climbing the corporate ladder.  It was shortly after 9/11 I started to question whether or not what I was doing was making me happy enough to continue doing it.  The answer was no – so I gave my notice and took a couple of weeks off to think about what I wanted to do.  I’ve always been a sewer so I thought that I start my own home dec business and make curtains and home dec items for a living.  I went on my first sales call and while I was sitting in the clients kitchen talking about what kind of drapes to make her I thought to myself, this is definitely not what I want to do.  Luckily my estimate came in too high and she didn’t hire me so I signed up for a weaving class and that was the start of my journey to becoming a full time artist.  I wove for a few years doing a lot of commission work and juried art shows and then a shoulder injury forced me to hang up my shuttle so I decided to take up quilting.  I tried to make some traditional quilts, which didn’t go well because I hate following directions, and that led me to exploring mixed media work and surface design techniques as a form of creative expression.  Up until about midway through 2009 I was really focussed on creating books and journals and 3d objects like boxes and vessels but I found myself wanting to explore working on flat surfaces and creating work that I could hang on my walls.  So I started dabbling in creating art quilts.  Art quilting gave me a way to continue exploring surface design techniques like fabric dyeing and painting with the added challenge of adding stitching to the surface.

Lyric: Why have you chosen textiles as a medium?runner_lr1
Sue: It’s the tactile nature of working with textiles that draws me in.  I really enjoy the process of taking plain white cloth, adding color to it and then using it to create an art quilt by cutting, fusing and stitching it.  It’s a full circle process for me to start with that plain white cloth and finish with something that vibrates with color and makes you smile when you look at it.

Lyric: How did you find your “voice?”


Sue: It happened gradually over the course of many years of experimenting and dabbling in several different styles.  It evolved naturally and got stronger and louder once I found the style and method of working that I found myself coming back to use again and again with each new quilt that I began.  My “voice” really started to come through loud and clear when I moved away from working with purchased commercial fabric and started dyeing my own solids.  There are a lot of artists who work with commercially printed fabrics and their voice and signature style comes through loud and clear but I just couldn’t seem to master that.  But once I started working in solids and the colorways that I dyed myself it became obvious to me that I had really developed a signature style that was really an expression of my own individuality as a quilt artist and that my “voice” was coming through loud and clear.

stillness_webphotoLyric: You work in two very distinct and disparate styles. How, why, are you worried about your work not being cohesive?


Sue: Well I think my work is cohesive within those two styles.  If you look at each body of work separately they each stand on their own as an individual body of work.   Each style is created using very different techniques – one uses cotton fabric, dye and machine stitching and the other uses silk fabric, and paint but doesn’t involve any machine stitching.  Both of these techniques I really enjoy doing which is why I haven’t abandoned one to work exclusively with the other although I will admit that my work with silk has taken a back seat to my fabric collage work because right now I’m focused more on creating work for juried art quilt shows than fine art shows which is where the silk work is more suited for. 

texture1Sue’s DVD Coloring Book Fabric Collage: Dyeing, Fusing, Designing, and Quilting will be available through Interweave Press in August.  Readers can sign up for my newsletter to be notified when it’s released at:

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Ann Fahl

I’d like to introduce you to another friend and artist: Ann Fahl.


Indiana Memories by Ann Fahl 57″ x 51″

The first big quilt show I saw was the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival and I was enchanted by this quilt of Ann’s. This picture doesn’t really do justice to the vibrance of the color and the beauty of the cloth and thread. I do remember that show opened my eyes turned me on to quilts as ART!


Three Water Lilies by Ann Fahl 30″ x 25″

Lyric: Did you always want to be an artist?
Ann: It was never in my life plan to be an artist. But as a daughter of two classical musicians, I was born an artist. Coloring was one of my first pleasurable activities as a preschooler. My parents would find me coloring in our little office at the front of the house very early in the morning. It was both the act of coloring and enjoying the colors as they appeared on paper that I loved. I also added some crayon drawings to the new wallpaper in my bedroom. I thought I had done a wonderful job of embellishing the little animals and flowers on the paper, but my mother didn’t think so.


Water Lilies on Yellow by Ann Fahl 28″ x 28″

Lyric: Describe your journey to becoming an artist.
Ann: My plan was to be a business woman, be CEO of a business or something. After 10 years in retailing I realized that no matter how high I got in the organization I was never going to love the job. I loved to sew, so I quit my job and started “Creative Sewing” I did anything that was needed, clothing, alterations, and home accessories. By accident I took a quilting class, and the rest is history. I also became CEO of my own business.


Images from the book, “A Black and White Tale” by Ann Fahl and Jaquie Scuitto
(click the image to read more and buy this delightful book of verses and art)

Lyric: Why textiles as a medium?
Ann: Children are very tactile. Wanting to touch fabrics, animals, flowers is part of human nature. So I am very tactile, but fabrics also add the excitement of color. The machine processes we use now to create quilts, are very repetitive and calming. All these things, when added to my inner artistic base sent me on my way to become a professional artist. Teaching and writing about what I love is a bonus. At this point in my life, thoughts, activities, everything I do is all wrapped together, to create me. It’s hard to separate one part from the rest of me. It’s one big package.

photo 1-16I love hearing about how and why people come to be where they are as artists. We all have such different and fascinating journeys. And now to the really fun part. Ann has a lovely new booklet out called Appliqué Ann’s Way: A new look at machine appliqué. I have a copy for one of YOU!

From her website: “Not everyone likes to appliqué. Ann wants to change that, because there are so many different methods available to us today. In Appliqué Ann’s Way she shares her six favorite methods; all combine the sewing machine with fabric and fusing. You are sure to find one technique that appeals to you! She includes tips and problem solving ideas as well. Whether you are a beginner, experienced or in between, you will find something to help improve and refine your techniques, it just takes a little practice. Whatever your level of ability, there is a technique for you.”

photo 2-17The booklet has 36 pages of instruction and black and white how-to photographs. 5.5″ x 8.5″ with stapled binding. I find her instructions to be clear and understandable and I think you will enjoy it.

Leave a comment here and tell me about your favorite construction technique for creating your textile art.

(happy day – this giveaway is open to my dear international readers!)

And congratulations to Arlene – the winner of the Notebook Covers book. She doesn’t carry a sketchbook with her yet – but maybe she will now!

I think Jeannie’s answer gives us one of the best reasons to do so, “Last winter my Dad suffered a paralysing stroke. It meant packing up quickly and heading out for a 5 hour drive. While staying for a couple of weeks, I found the importance of having a notebook with me. The hospital was old and beautiful. I went to the gift shop and purchased a little memo pad for taking notes from nurses and doctors since we are all at “that” age where nothing stays in memory for long. The lesson was that to keep my sanity, I went to the lobby and drew. I went out in the rain and drew. I have never thought of myself as a drawer or artist, but the ability to focus on something other than my situation was a gift. There is now a notepad and a mini moleskin in my purse – never leave home without it!”

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Victoria Findlay Wolfe


I’d like to introduce you to a new friend and fellow artist that I think you will love: Victoria Findlay Wolfe was my fellow guest artist when I filmed for The Quilt Show down in Charleston, SC. I posted a whole series of articles here about the city and the experience. We had a fabulous and exhausting few days while we were there together.


Victoria has a background in the fine arts and is currently working with textiles, churning out quilts like a madwoman. She has more energy and is more productive than most people I know. You can see lots of her quilts here. She makes mostly bed quilts in a very fresh and contemporary style. What follows are Victoria’s own words about her journey.


Everything But The Kitchen Sink by Victoria Findlay Wolfe

“Life hands us funny things sometimes. Often times, it’s things we would have never thought we’d have to deal with. Be kind. Be grateful. Find the JOY in each day.

picture 48

Cheap Hotels by Victoria Findlay Wolfe

I set out for NY in 1994 to be an artist. I came to NYC with a suitcase, two boxes of paintings, and $200 in my pocket. (I do not recommend that to anyone) the $200 was gone in two days in NYC.

screen shot 2012-09-23 at 7.40.23 pm

Scrapping it up by Victoria Findlay Wolfe

I set about following my dream, being the creative person I am. And, although I’ve done that, my direction has certainly changed. The important part has been being open to following the creative path that presented itself to me. Had I not found BLOGS, and beautiful quilts, I may not have found the deep appreciation for where I’ve come from. Quilting, was always something we did, because, that’s what we do in our family as MAKERS; We grow our food, we can our food, we make our quilts and clothes… it never dawned on me, that this would become my passion.


“Double Edged LOVE” collaborated & quilted by Lisa Sipes, just WON BEST IN SHOW at QUILTCON!

Now, I have a deep respect for where I’ve come from, and from where quilters have come from. Always look back, and forward for that matter, with respect!”

Do you love her work as much as I do? There is a freedom and playfulness that speaks to me, combined with just enough order to keep things from getting out of hand. Love it. We exchanged and autographed our books as I dropped her off at the airport, eager to share each other’s work with our own readers.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 5.09.55 PM

 15 Minutes of Play

is a book I really enjoyed reading through. In fact, it inspired the first bed quilt I’ve made in years! (I’ll show it to you eventually… it’s still waiting for me to quilt it.) In it she advocates setting aside 15 minutes at the beginning of your creative time to simply play and sew random scraps together. Does this creative warm-up time sound familiar to you? Victoria shows you techniques for using this “made fabric” in your quilts and gives some solid design advice.

I have a signed copy of her book ready to send to one of you.
Tell me what your favorite creative warm-up is.
In three days I’ll pick the winner.

If you just can’t wait and want to buy a signed copy of 15 Minutes to Play you can do that here. (US entries only on this one please. It kills me but they’ve raised shipping charges quite dramatically on this end. I hope to have at least one or two original postcards to give away to my lovely international readers. And – please be patient with shipping. I’ve had surgery and am still not quite back on my feet – I should be able to get out to the post office within two weeks. Cheers and best wishes!)

Artist Spotlight: Lisa Engelbrecht

Hello Friends, I’d like to introduce you to another of my favorite artists, Lisa Engelbrecht. Several years ago I was doing an open studio demonstration (or was it a sampler – I can’t remember) and the Lovely Lisa was at a table nearby doing some amazing calligraphy on cloth. An admission here: I have always loved, loved, LOVED beautiful lettering. I love everything about language (I am an English Lit. major after all) and creating visual beauty out of beautiful language – it’s just poetic. I’ve followed her work ever since and am so pleased to be able to spotlight her her. So – ON to the interview!

Lyric: What is your favorite medium and why?

Lisa: Right now it has to be paint of all kinds-acrylic on paper and on fabric. I just love mark making and really have moved away from straight readable calligraphy. I feel as though I am journaling on the page, making writing that only I know what it says!

Lyric: Why do you work with textiles?

Lisa: Oh, I didn’t want to write on a big piece of paper for a final project in my calligraphy class so I asked if I could write on fabric-fortunately my teacher said yes and I found I loved it-and began teaching others how to do this

Lyric: What is it about lettering?

Lisa: I clearly remember a neighbor friend when I was about 7 or 8 showed me a piece of Eucalyptus Bark she had written on and put a flower next to the writing. The writing was cute and curly and I decided-yes! That’s what I want to do. I started playing with my letters then and there-using just a ballpoint pen and making circles over my ‘I’s and writing on a ruler. I love the idea that I can convey my words or someone else way more eloquent than me’s words  in a beautiful way that might bring even more meaning to the words- a real direct communication between the viewer and I.

Lyric: How did you become an artist – did you always know what you wanted to do?

Lisa: I only know that I chafed under the rules of traditional calligraphy-this could be related to my own psychology but originally I wanted to please everyone ( teachers) with my technical skills-but really really wanted to bust loose. I found my voice once I did go my own way but it was scary and I know even now traditional calligraphers aren’t too pleased with my message-that really anyone can do calligraphy! I find even today that when I go with my gut feelings on my art work Im much happier and others tend to like it too-I never tried to be a famous lettering artist and now I’m trying to put the emphasis on ‘artist ‘ in my work-kind of a hurdle for me-I want to be known for my art and not my crafty things.

Lyric: Desert island – what art thing would you bring?

Lisa: Favorite tool of all time has to be the parallel pen by Pilot. It is so versatile-besides having a cartridge inside so I don’t have to dip into ink I can dip it also into other colors and metallic powders .


I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Lisa Engelbrecht. She has a wonderful book available – I encourage you to go over to her website and take a look!

Modern Calligraphy: From Classic Calligraphy to Hip Hand-Lettering

DVD: Hand Lettering on Fabric
Bali Lantern Workshop available on Lisa’s website


Artist Spotlight: Maurine Roy

I’d like to introduce you a delightful woman I met recently on a teaching trip to the Seattle area. One of the great pleasures of my profession is meeting quilters from all over the world. Maurine Roy is more than a talented quilter – she is a true Renaissance Woman. Some people just have a very special spirit about them. I think there is something we all can learn from her.


I looked through a very small portion of the quilts Maurine had stacked up on two beds in a spare bedroom. I can’t even estimate how many there where! Here she is – with her most recent “Quilt of Valor“- ready to be sent some lucky soldier overseas. She read us a thank you note from a soldier in Afghanistan that brought us all to tears.  (I encourage you all to check out this program if you haven’t heard of it. If you make tops you can be matched with a long-arm quilter – you don’t even have to do the whole thing yourself. )

Weird? I say wonderful! Can you imagine having a bathroom like this in your home? Notice the stained glass light cover in the shower!

Lyric: How long have you been creating art and how did you begin?

Maurine: I know exactly when I started.  It was in September of 1957.  My husband was killed in an automobile accident and I was left with 4 young kids, ages 4 weeks to 7.  It was a bad time and I couldn’t sleep at night, so I went out and bought paints and an easel.  After the kids were in bed I began painting.  I found that after painting for hours I could go to bed and sleep like a log.  It became my therapy.  My first painting is still hung in my living room.  I did some really weird stuff. 

Lyric: What is your goal in creating your work? 

Maurine:  I don’t know if I have a goal.  I think creating is my goal.  When I start a new medium I become obsessed with it and spend all of my spare time working with it. 

Lyric: Do you ever create art with the intent to earn income? 

Maurine: No. I create art for myself and for my own satisfaction.  It is totally rewarding to finish an object, knowing it is good, and then say “YES, I did it!

Lyric: So many artists are told that to concentrate on one medium or even one style. You seem to do the opposite. Do you have a favorite medium? 

Maurine: I concentrate on one medium until I burn myself out, then something else always pops up to get my attention.  There is always the excitement and challenge of starting a new project.  I have done painting, stained glass, lost wax casting, welding, notebooks, leather tooling (the valances in my rec room are hand tooled), quilting and whatever.  Lost wax casting was my favorite.  I worked with an artist who had his own equipment for casting.  It was like a foundry.  I have poured as much as 35 pounds of bronze at one time. 

A little sculpture about telemarketers – think they caught her at a bad time?

 A lot of my art reflects my life experiences.  Creating has always been my therapy.  It has helped me through many tough times.  Quilting is the medium that has lasted the longest.  I have been quilting since 1990 and have finished over 370 quilts.  Art quilts are my specialty though,  that is where the creative juices flow.  Quilting is an amazing art form. Once you have stepped into that world,  you find there are no limitation placed on your creativity or your depth of feelings.

Cast bronze, a sculpture of Maureen’s son building a fort.

Lyric: Does one medium spark ideas for work in a different medium or do you think in a different design style for each medium?

Maurine: It is definitely a different design style for each medium.  The only commonality is that it comes from the same heart and mind.  All of it in some ways represents my thoughts and feelings and experiences.  It is such a great outlet for emotions and I have been blessed with this ability to creatively express myself.

Lyric: What does it mean to you to be able create beautiful things?

Maurine: I am 85 years old and I hope whatever creative talents I have will live on through my art for many years.  This is a part of myself that I can leave to future generations.

Well, there you have it. Maurine is as gracious and witty and kind in person as she is in this interview. I am inspired. What are my take-away lessons learned from Maurine?

Do the art because you must.
Explore without fear.
Find health and sanity through your art.
Think of future generations. 

This is Maurine’s first time on a blog. I would be thrilled if you left a comment for her to read. Hey – get your friends to come read and leave a comment too. Let her know how much it means to have someone like her out there making the world a better and more beautiful place!

Artist Spotlight: Jane Sassaman

I’d love to introduce you to a long-time favorite artist of mine – the lovely and talented Jane Sassaman. I have quite a few of her pieces in my favorite lecture (The Elements of Art). Her work is bold, full of movement, and speaks to my heart.

L: I’m always very interested in the different paths people take to their current place. Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? How did you get to where you are?

Jane: Yes, there was no other career path for me. Thank goodness my parents encouraged me along the way. But I have always been tunnel-visioned and it is very easy to ignore everything else when I have a goal or a project in the works. When I’m at home, I’m in the studio eight hours a day, seven days a week. 

 When I started quilting my goal was to be in the Quilt National with all those other quilters that I admired so much. So that was the first show I entered and luckily I was accepted, in fact I was in every Quilt National from 1989-2005. I think that exposure helped get my work into the world. I think it’s about time to enter again!

Lyric: I think it’s very important for creative people to have a space of their own (no matter how small) where they can walk in and get to work. Tell me about your working space.

 Jane: I have a nice big studio space now, but for years I worked on the only table in a small house in the middle of family life. Yes, a nice studio is great, but determination and vision can overcome many obstacles. 

My current space is in a separate building on our property, so now I can actually have some privacy. It is still waiting for more bookcases and storage, but it is great to have a larger space to spread into. The walls are painted bright yellow and saffron, colors that I find very energetic and encouraging.

Lyric: Your work is very bold and graphic in quality. Have you always worked this way or did you wander through various styles before “finding your voice?”

 Jane: I seem to have been born with a preference for hard edged graphics and solid colors. Even in junior high school my work contained these elements. And these some of the characteristics that drew me to quilting, along with the craftsmanship, fabric, scale and independence.

 Lyric: How do you balance the business side of your work with making art?

Jane: Sigh! I have found I’m a much better artist than a business woman! I would love to hook up with someone who’s “art” is business. These days the studio work often takes a back seat to correspondence. But I am determined to adjust those proportions this year. I am also designing fabric for FreeSpirit/Westminster, which I LOVE doing. This designing takes a lot of time and concentration. And then I design quilts with the fabric to show the fabrics potential… and this is what Patchwork Sassaman Style is all about. I’m hoping that this book will excite people into using some of those big beautiful prints.

Lyric: Is there an event coming up that you would like to tell us about?

 Jane: I will be attending the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, August 16-19 to do a lecture and a Meet the Designer event hosted by Kaffe Fassett.

This will be my first trip to the show and I am really looking forward to seeing all the quilts and meeting their makers.

So – isn’t she amazing? Are you as in love with her work as I am? That beautiful scarf is for sale on her website, along with some of her beautiful fabric and patterns.

Stay tuned – Jane has a new book that I’ll review (and give away!) tomorrow!

Artist Spotlight: Linda Kittmer

I’d like to introduce you to an artist who does some very fun and interesting fiber work, Linda Kittmer. I’m always interested in the process and the history behind an artist and their work and Linda kindly agreed to share her story with you.

How did you become an artist? 
2012 Bead Journal Project by Linda Kittmer
I guess I’ve always been an artist, or at least had some artistic ability.  I loved art in high school and took some fine arts electives in university, but never thought of pursuing it as a career.  Then, as is so often the case, life got busy and art was put on the back burner.  In 1999 I began quilting.  I was a self taught quilter and quickly discovered that I preferred creating my own unique designs rather than use a pattern.  From there I moved to art quilts, fibre art and mixed media work.   

What need are you fulfilling, why do you make art?

I find working on my art very relaxing.  When things are going well, my art is a wonderful pastime, allowing me to express who I am and how I see the world.  It allows me to play!  And as Marion Boddy-Evans says, “I believe art is foremost for the artist who creates it.  You do it for your soul, and if the rest of the world gets something from it, that’s a bonus.” 
Rock Paper Scissors by Linda Kittmer
But, perhaps more important to me right now is the fact that when life presents challenges, my art becomes therapeutic.  To quote Twyla Tharp, “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  I am currently struggling with depression as the result of a concussion I incurred after an accident, and my personal commitment to do art everyday is incredibly helpful in allowing me to keep things in perspective.  John Updike summed it us so well when he said that “What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit”.
What is your favorite medium and why? 
It’s really hard to say what my favourite medium is.  I enjoy experimenting with a wide variety of art media (various fibres, paints, paper, inks, beads, etc.) but I usually come back to something that allows me to incorporate stitch.  I love free-motion quilting and thread sketching, and I also do a lot of beading and hand stitching. 
What is your favorite ongoing project and how did you become involved in it? 

I’m currently working on a relatively large piece that I’m hoping to have accepted into a juried show next year.  This piece was inspired by some of the needle felted work done by Jane LaFazio.  I’ve started with hand dyed pieces of left over bamboo batting as a base.  Over that I’ve layered all sorts of wonderful yarns, wool and silk rovings, hand dyed cheese cloth, etc.  The next step will be to add a lot of hand stitch and then some beading.  I love the unpredictability I get when working on my embellishing machine.  It’s so much fun to watch the piece evolve in front of my eyes!  

You Are Unique by Linda Kittmer
If your curiosity has been sparked, head over to Linda’s blog and check out more of her work. While you are there read her review of my Bead It Like You Mean It DVD. She’ll be giving away a copy so be sure to leave a comment there for a chance to win.

Artist Spotlight: Nancy Cook – A Sense of Scale

What happens when you take the sketch of something you’ve drawn… something nice and small and detailed… and you blow it up REALLY BIG!?
Burr Oak sketch by Nancy Cook
Maple Seed Design by Nancy Cook
Scale is a basic principle of design and composition. It always relates to the size of the work of art in comparison to the size of us as human beings. Taking something tiny and often overlooked and spending the time necessary to draw it in great detail gives an artist a deep appreciation for the beauty of the form. I’m constantly telling my students that sketching is more about seeing than anything else. 
How do you convey that sense of beauty to your viewer – the wonder and awe of the complexity of nature? One way is to create your work of art on a scale much, much larger than the object you are rendering. Nancy Cook takes a seed, a leaf, a branch – and blows it up larger than life with beautiful details in her textile work. She gives us an easy window into the understanding of nature’s beauty.
Burr Oak by Nancy Cook
I was very fortunate to see an exhibit of Nancy Cook’s work at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill this week. (Unfortunately it comes down next Tuesday the 28th.) It’s worth seeing – and then wandering the beautiful landscape – sketchbook in hand.
Echos of Tulip’s Summer by Nancy Cook

So as you sketch, as you observe, keep in mind a sense of scale. Might your sketch be a study for a final work of art? What scale would you like to work with? What will your final product be?

Imaginary Creatures

One of my favorite artists and illustrators is named Omar Rayyan.
Fluffy, by Omar Rayyan
I love his slightly twisted and humorous imagination.

Contessa with Squid, by Omar Rayyan
 I smile whenever I see his work.

Courtship, by Omar Rayyan

 I don’t have his prodigious experience and the natural results of his due diligence with pencil and brush. Some day I might, but not yet.

But last night right before bed I was thinking about this month’s Sketchbook Challenge theme of imaginary creatures and started scribbling and a few seconds later I had a long necked goat with wings and fangs. No idea at the beginning what it was going to be. But there you go. Fun to be had with pencil in hand. 

Artist Spotlight: Tracie Lyn Huskamp

The giveaway fenzy winds down today with the artist Tracie Lyn Huskamp who is giving away a copy of Bead It Like You Mean It on her blog. Read all about her here, then go there to leave a comment for your chance to win.

Tracie Lyn Huskamp is a product designer, workshop instructor, painter, poet, and mixed media artist living in Kansas. Her book, Nature Inspired (by Quarry Publishing), her fabric collection, Nature Inspired (by Windham Fabrics), along with her 2012 calendars, Nature Inspired Birds (by Time Factory Publishing), are in retails stores now. To learn more about her art and life, visit her website at

Tracie will be in Houston November 3-6, teaching at the International Quilt Festival. She’s also teaching next year, September 16 – 22 in Orivieto Italy! Can I just tell you right now… I WANT TO BE IN THAT CLASS! 

Here is a list of all of the lovely artists and blogs that participated in the Bead It party.

Sep 15  Larkin Van Horn
Sept 16 Susan Sorell 
Sept 19 Kelli Nina Perkins
Sept 21  Sharon Chapman
Sept 23 Leslie Jennison
Sept 26 Carla Sonheim
Sept 28 Gloria Hansen 
Sept 30 Laura Wasilowski
Oct 3  Carol Sloan
Oct 5 Sue Bleiweiss 
Oct 7  Jill Berry 
Oct 10 Jane LaFazio
Oct 12 Tracie Lynn Huskamp

And if , even after leaving a comment on each and every review, you still didn’t win – you can buy it here.

Bead It Like You Mean It – Jane LaFazio

Blog Hop Giveaway
is winding down…

Today the fabulous Jane LaFazio is reviewing and then giving away one of the last two copies of this hour and a half long workshop. On Wednesday Tracie Lyn Huskamp is giving the last one away. And then the introductory sale price of $19.95 goes up to $24.95.

I’ve introduced you to Jane in the past (read a series of posts here) – she’s still one of my favorites. She’s full of boundless energy and enthusiasm and is fearless about trying new techniques. 

Head over to JANE’S BLOG today and leave a comment to win a copy of Bead It Like You Mean It.

THIS is what Jane did after viewing my DVD.
Read the post about her project of fight Breast Cancer here. 
What crazy thing are you inclined to bead?

Artist Spotlight: Jill Berry

Sketchbook Artist, Jill Berry is recently returned from three fabulous weeks of teaching in Italy. 
I can’t wait to hear more – I SOOOO want to do that some day.
Her book, due out soon, is called Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking. I can’t wait to see it, having a personal attraction to maps – and art that explores maps and plans. Maybe it’s my (long ago) studies of architecture, maybe it’s just that Jill’s work is gorgeous. You can pre-order it here.
She has a review of Bead It Like You Mean It on her blog and is giving away a copy. 
Head over to her blog to leave a comment for your chance to win. 
Remember that the DVD is on sale only for the next few days. On October 12th the regular price will go into effect, so if you want it for $19.95 buy it soon. I think you will really like it. If you want your local shop to carry it please have them contact me!
Carol Sloan and Sue Bleiwiess also still have giveaways open so you can try your luck there as well.

Artist Spotlight: Sue Belieweiss

Sue Bleiweiss is the brains behind the Sketchbook Challenge – a group of artists that has taken many of us on a fantastic journey for the past year. I have learned much and made wonderful friends over there, and it has been a great pleasure to work with Sue.

Fabric Collage II by Sue Bleiweiss
34″ x 24″

Sue’s work speaks to me – it is both richly textured and yet it is controlled and meticulously detailed. Love it.

Sue says: “I am fascinated with the challenge of creating texture both real and implied to a piece of fabric by using dyes, paints, and stitch to manipulate the surface of  the fabric.  My goal has never been to create a perfect and flawless surface. It is to create something that delights the eye, feeds the senses and fires the imagination.” 

Sue also works in various media – I’ve loved her sculptural works and especially her hand made books for a long time. Beautiful stuff.

Sue has posted a review of my DVD, Bead It Like You Mean It on her blog and is giving away a copy. Please head over to her blog and read what she thinks. Leave a comment to win. 

Carol Sloane’s giveaway is also still open if you haven’t left a comment there.

Artist Spotlight: Carol Sloan

I’d like you to meet mixed media artist, Carol Sloan. I have truly enjoyed getting to know her through the Sketchbook Challenge. When I was reading her biography I was drawn to her lists. I like lists. I’m going to share her list with you.

In 2008 I started a blog, began teaching and submitted artwork for publication in two books.
I was on my way to achieving some of my lifelong goals and dreams: 

Be an artist. Be an author. Teach others to celebrate their creative spirit.
I have artwork in four books, with a project coming out this fall (I hope) in an e-book with Lark. I teach nationally and plan on teaching internationally soon. 
I want to write a book about mixed media book making. 
I love to teach. 
I love to see the spark in my students eyes that they can create beautiful art. 
I love to hear other people say that I helped them to look at the world in a different manner.
If I’m not knee deep in water, kayaking with my husband, then I am elbow deep in paint, paper and fiber, creating art that tells a great story.

(Do you love her list as much as I do?)

Carol has also reviewed Bead It Like You Mean It

Leave a comment on her BLOG 
if you’d like the chance to win it.

Here is a little recap of the reviews so far – and the upcoming giveaways
Oct 3  Carol Sloan
Oct 5 Sue Bleiweiss 
Oct 7  Jill Berry 
Oct 10 Jane LaFazio
Oct 12 Tracie Lynn Huskamp

Artist Spotlight: Laura Wasilowski

Laura Walisowski has long been one of my favorite quilters and one of my favorite people. Her work and her personality are both full of whimsy and humor. In fact, she should come with a warning: do not try to drink when she is talking as sudden spraying through the nose is likely to occur.
Waffle Irons
32″ x 37″

Laura is the revered and feared Dean of Corrections at the Chicago School of Fusing, (yes, I AM a proud graduate of that school.) I highly recommend a quick tour, especially a glance at the Rowenta Sports Arena, Home of the Iron Maidens, my favorite team.
She teaches all over the place and will also be vending her absolutely delicious – as in I have an extensive collection – ARTFABRIK embroidery threads and dyed fabric in Houston at the International Quilt Festival.
Blue Book on Blue Chairs
46″ x 57″
Her new book, Fanciful Stitches, Colorful Quilts is a delight to read and if you’ve wanted to add embroidery to your quilts I highly recommend it. I reviewed it here in case you are curious… and you know you are!

Today she has a review of Bead It Like You Mean It up on her blog
Today only – leave a comment over there for a chance to win

Artist Spotlight: Gloria Hansen

I’ve been wanting to introduce you to Gloria Hansen for a very long time now and am so happy to finally get the chance to do so. She is one of the kindest, most generous people I know. She is also an incredibly talented artist.

Blushing Triangles 5

Gloria is considered a pioneer in uniting the quilt maker with the computer, and in 1996 she co-authored The Quilter’s Computer Companion, a ground-breaking book published by No Starch Press. She also wrote or 
co-wrote 13 titles in the Free Stuff on the Internet series publishing by C&T Publishing. 

Her latest book Digital Essentials, the Quilt Maker’s Must Have Guide to Images, Files, and More, published by Electric Quilt Company, was a USA Book News “Best Books 2009” finalist.  Her works has appeared in nearly 200 magazine articles, within nearly 30 books, on several magazine covers, and a college text book cover.  She has been a technology columnist since 1996; was selected as the NJ featured Artist of the month, August 2007, by the NJ State Council on the Arts/Art Pride NJ; and was a featured guest on the HGTV show Simply Quilts and on the cable TV show Exit 8

Gloria’s work has been exhibited throughout the country and abroad for over two decades. She has won over 200 awards, including the 2007 Master of Innovative Artistry award at the International Quilting Association show in Houston, Texas and the 2008 Best Wall Quilt award at the American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah, Kentucky.  She also has a quilt in the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. In 2008, Gloria’s work was displayed in a solo show at the San Jose  Museum of Quilts & Textiles where she was described by the curator as “one of the world’s foremost digital quilt designers.” 

It’s About Time

I hope you are as in love with her work as I am. And I think you should buy her book, Digital Essentials. It’s a must have for anyone who needs to do anything with computers and quilting. She explains so many things (resizing, digital watermarks, editing, etc) in such a clear and easily understandable fashion.
But first – go to her blog and leave a comment for a chance to win my DVD.

Artist Spotlight: Carla Sonheim

Carla Sonheim is a painter, illustrator, and creativity workshop instructor known for her fun and innovative projects and techniques designed to help adult students recover a more spontaneous, playful approach to creating. She is the author of Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun.
One of her students writes, “Carla just shines and is so gentle and generous that you will work hard all day and come out energised and inspired. Most importantly though, [her] class was a touchstone in my artistic journey, giving me the courage to stop resisting, and open myself to my creative voice.”
Carla lives in Seattle, Washington.
(Remember… “Blowed kisses are like little ghosties. They can go through cracks in doors.” –Wes Sonheim, age 4)

Carla will be teaching at JOURNALFEST on October 26-30th in Port Townsend, Washington.

I own and adore her book, Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists and I think you should own it too!
Now go to Carla’s Blog, Snowball Journals and read her review of Bead It Like You Mean It. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the DVD.

And if you don’t win there – you can try each of these other blogs.
Sept 26 Carla Sonheim
Sept 28 Gloria Hansen 
Sept 30 Laura Wasilowski
Oct 3  Carol Sloan
Oct 5 Sue Bleiweiss 
Oct 7  Jill Berry 
Oct 10 Jane LaFazio
Oct 12 Tracie Lynn Huskamp

Or – you can buy it here.

Artist Spotlight: Sharon Chapman

Today you can head over to Sharon Chapman of Wildflower House and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Bead It Like You Mean It

Sharon’s Etsy shop

Sharon lives in the foothills of the Cascade mountains where there is mucho rain, but when the sun comes out it’s gorgeous. Her real love is Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands which are close. She loves creating gardens and peaceful places. Lately her interests have been crazy quilting and landscape quilts. 

Here’s the round up so far of all the blogs that are hosting a DVD giveaway.
Each of them so far has some fun reviews and projects.

Sep 15  Larkin Van Horn
Sept 16 Susan Sorell 
Sept 19 Kelli Nina Perkins
Sept 21  Sharon Chapman
Sept 23 Leslie Jennison
Sept 26 Carla Sonheim
Sept 28 Gloria Hansen 
Sept 30 Laura Wasilowski
Oct 3  Carol Sloan
Oct 5 Sue Bleiweiss 
Oct 7  Jill Berry 
Oct 10 Jane LaFazio
Oct 12 Tracie Lynn Huskamp

Artist Spotlight: Kelli Nina Perkins

Kelli Nina Perkins is a mixed media artist and librarian living on the shores of Lake Michigan. She has a master’s degree in information from the University of Michigan. For over a decade, Kelli has been making art that prizes the everyday ephemera of our lives, incorporating the common flotsam of discarded life into art that speaks to the heart. 

She’s a fantastic teacher and will be teaching at Art Camp for Women in October. You WANT to be there. I do. It’s in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains (oh how I miss them!) and you’ll be playing to your hearts content with some of the funnest supplies, and funnest people there are. Really. Even if you can’t go – spread the word and tell your friends.

Kelli’s  SPOON  POETRY tutorial is one of my all time favorites.
I have the spoons, I have the ink and the words and a place to hang a spoon poetry garland. It’s only a matter of time.

Now head over to her blog and read her review of BEAD IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT.
Leave a comment there for a chance to win the DVD!

Artist Spotlight: Leslie Tucker Jenison

InVitro: Microscopy
by Leslie Tucker Jenison
50.5″ x 27″

San Antonio artist Leslie Tucker Jenison is inspired by the textural beauty found in the patterns of natural and man-made environments. Leslie loves the tactile experience of working with cloth and paper.  Using dye, paint, and thread, Leslie creates unique imagery on these surfaces.  The juxtaposition of the macro to microscopic world is a recurring theme in her work. Long fascinated by the historical connection of quilts and the people who make them, she serves on the board of the Alliance for American Quilts. Leslie exhibits internationally in galleries and juried exhibitions. Her work  is held in both corporate and private collections. Leslie teaches a variety of quilt and mixed media workshops. She curates exhibitions and teaches as one half of Dinner At Eight Artists along with Jamie Fingal.

Leslie has a review up on her blog of 
and is giving away a copy on September 24th. 
Head over to her blog and leave a comment for a chance to win. 
You can take a class from Leslie if you are lucky enough to be in Houston this November.

Thurs, Nov 3rd – 6 hour class

#425  Musical Chairs:  A Painted Canvas Adventure

Friday, Nov 4th – 6 hour class

#517  Dreaming in Canvas:  A Painted Quilt – Paint/Sew

Sat, Nov 5th – 3 hour class

#732  Texas Hold’em Apron- Sew/Paint – morning

What Remains by Leslie Tucker Jenison
48″ x 36″

There is still a bit of time to head over to Larkin and Susan’s blogs to win the copies they are giving away.
Sep 15  Larkin Van Horn
Sept 16 Susan Sorell 

Tomorrow is Kelli’s turn.
Sept 19 Kelli Nina Perkins

And if you simply can’t wait – you can buy the DVD here.

Artist Spotlight: Susan Sorrell

Today a fellow Sketchbook Challenge artist, and a fellow Carolinian, Susan Sorrell, will review “Bead It Like You Mean It” on her blog. Get to know her just a bit here, then go there and leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win the DVD!
 Susan Sorrell has always had a “wild imagination” growing up. Traveling all over the world with her father’s job, she has had to entertain herself with all kinds of arts and crafts. She didn’t become serious about art, until she made it her major at Winthrop University. Earning a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Design, Susan worked for a short time as a graphic artist, and then decided to get her Masters in Education at Converse College, to teach art. 
Funky Fungus
beaded, painted/printed fabric, hand embroidery, mixed media
Being around children was a great way to get her creative juices flowing, so she quit after 12 years and became a full time artist. Susan calls herself a “mixed media” artist, since she likes to dabble in a lot of different medias. She has been working with textiles since 1998 and hasn’t tired of it yet. 
 Combining painting, sewing, beading and embellishing on fabric has opened new avenues to express her self.  Her pieces are whimsical, colorful and have a personal theme. Susan likes to draw her inspirations from her life and what is happening in the world. 
Her recent series of work, “Southern Fried Fiber” is inspired by her “Southern” roots. Susan lives in Greenville, South Carolina and has a studio, Little House Art Studios, located in Taylors, SC.  To view more of Susan Sorrell work visit her website 

Remember to leave a comment on Susan’s blog for a chance to win Bead It Like You Mean It

Artist Spotlight: Larkin Van Horn

Today is the first day of a month long blog-hop full of reviews and giveaways for my new DVD workshop
(really – it’s just a big party with everyone invited!)

How Green Was My Valley
7 1/4 x 15 3/4
Larkin Van Horn, one of the nicest people I know and an artist whom I have admired for a very long time, kicks off the event. We both love art quilting, we both bead, we both teach, and we both have wonderful and unique “L” names. That means that every once in a while we get an email meant for the other. I can’t think of another person I’d rather be mixed up with. Here’s a little introduction:

Larkin Van Horn is a mixed-media textile artist working in the areas of art quilts, beadwork, wearable art, and liturgical art.

In her own words:
“Textiles and mixed media, as art for the wall and three-dimensional structures, form the basis of my work. I draw my inspiration from a variety of sources: my own imagination and strong sense of drama, the colorists and abstract expressionists of the past, and the wild variety of the natural world. At times, my work is a response to the grey Pacific Northwest winters; at other times it reflects the natural energy of spring and summer.

A central feature of my work is texture, both visual and literal. Whether I am exploring the organic features of my island home — the waves and tide lines, wind-bent trees, strata and fissures in the rocks on the seashore — or the inner landscape of emotions, spirit and self, I want my work to have as much interest for the fingertips as for the eye – hence, the decision to work with fabric, fiber, beads, and found objects. Finding myself drawn to the alchemy and serendipity of dyeing and painting my own fabrics and yarns to create a vibrant “paint box” of materials, seems an appropriate approach to the abstract imagery of the work.

Although my inspiration is drawn from the great outdoors, the work is created on a more intimate scale. Most of my pieces are appropriate for private spaces, small nooks, and niches. “

Larkin is the author of the book “Beading on Fabric” – my very favorite instructional book in this category. (You can buy it from her here.)

read what she has to say about it,
and follow the her instructions in order to win a copy of
Bead It Like You Mean It 

Artist Spotlight part 1: Christine Hager-Braun

I’d like to introduce you to another one of my favorite textile artists. Christine Hager-Braun. I’ve long enjoyed her work but a few months ago I saw some new pieces hanging in a gallery that simply blew me away. Thought I’d share them with you.

Lyric: How did you become an artist, what is your background?

More Than Just the Sum: Northern Red Oak
18.5″ x 24.5″

Christine: When I was a child my grandmother taught me to crochet, all sorts of embroidery and needlework techniques and to sew on a treadle sewing machine. However, I was only exposed to quilting after I moved to the US in 1999. In the Summer of 2002, I made my first quilt following a pattern from a book. It was a lapquilt, machine-pieced and free-motion quilted, for my grandmother on the occasion of her 87th birthday. This piece was a valuable lesson for me in order to realize that I did not enjoy making repetitive blocks.

My next quilt was already based on my own ideas. Feeling comfortable with straight seams, I assembled the center from 400 little squares. Over the years my skills developed: curved seams were added, strict geometric patterns were supplemented with free-form cuts. Besides having a stash of commercially available fabrics I started dyeing and painting my own fabrics. I truly enjoy the characteristics of fabric such as colors and malleability so fabric became my medium of choice.

More Than Just The Sum: Post Oak
18.5″ x 24.5″

L: I know that you were a scientist before you chose to dedicate yourself to your artwork. Why did you decide to quit that job and spend more time with art?

Christine: I worked as a scientist in the field of HIV research. Amongst those people infected with HIV, only very few develop specific, so-called neutralizing, antibodies which fight the virus and prevent the individual from developing AIDS. I characterized some of these neutralizing antibodies hoping that the insights would contribute to the ultimate goal of the research community to develop a vaccine against HIV. But over the years I became frustrated because I felt we would always be a step behind. My hobby of art quilting helped me to remain balanced as it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Eventually, creating art became an essential aspect of my life, important enough to give up my job in the lab. In addition, having a studio in my house allowed me to spend more time with my son who started kindergarten at that time. Although being a professional artist requires discipline and dedicated hours in the studio, I enjoyed – and still enjoy – that I can be more involved in my child’s education and well-being.

L: What inspires and informs your current work?
More Than Just The Sum: Northern White Oak
18.5″ x 24.5″
Christine: My background in biological sciences and simply life around me is the inspiration for my work.
Thematically, my current work focuses on interactions: Interactions on a microscopic level between cells or microorganisms, but also interactions between humans on an individual basis or in communities. My latest work, a series entitled “More Than Just the Sum” was inspired by images of microscopic slides prepared from wood slices. Individual cells form tissue samples with specific functions, and although various tissues are visually and functionally different, they interact and form one organism, namely a majestic tree. 

Artist Spotlight: Alma Stoller

Time to intruduce you all to another fabulous artist! I have to tell you that I really enjoy this process. Getting to know another artist and hearing their story is fascinating and inspiring to me. I hope it is to you as well. 
Alma Stoller creates some lovley and ethereal portraits and mixed media textile art and I think you might like her work as much as I do.

Lyric – It’s so nice to “meet” you here Alma. I love your work and am wondering, did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

Alma – yes. I knew that very early on.

L – I love it when that happens. What are some of the interesting turns you took on the path to where you are now as an artist?

A -I always knew that I wanted to focus in the arts. For me, that took the form of Theater in High School and Music in College. I loved becoming Joan of Arc so much, that I cut my hair and dyed it black in order to ‘feel’ the part. I started writing poetry and songs when I was in my early teen and spent a good deal of time recording it and trying to get into the biz, but I realized that what I liked about music and theater was the writing, coming up with an interesting chord progression, the development of stories, characters and the creative part of it. 

I have always been interested in the healing arts…. how art, whether it’s dance or doll making, theater or cabinet making can transform you. It has the ability to change your life….to empower you and make everyday experiences sweeter. In my own way, these days, I focus more on that angle of it than anything else. I’ve always dabbled with drawing and doodling on paper…..but it wasn’t until my daughter was born that I shifted from music to art. I finished my BA in Music, (with one class short of a minor in art) and immediately started taking Graduate courses in Music Education. Doing what I thought was the practical thing to do rather than what I wanted to do. 
When my daughter was born….that was actually the best time. While caring for her, I was also able to care for myself. I actually had the time to think about what I wanted. I started writing and drawing again. I started sewing new things out of the little dresses she outgrew. It was a really sweet and quiet time for me.

L – Why do you choose your medium?

A – I work in a little bit of everything. 

I truly enjoy working in all fields of art, from painting, collage, to crochet and textile art.

L – What are your favorite art supplies – the ones you can’t do without?

A – That changes depending on what I am into at the moment…..
Right now, my favorite supplies are Golden Extra Heavy Gel Matte, pearl cotton embroidery thread, gesso, and the current issue of Vogue.

L – Why do you teach and what do you get out of it?

A – I love teaching and I love sharing my ideas. Teaching others allows me to see my work from the outside rather than from inside my head and through my eyes. 
It forces me to be a little more mindful of my own creative process….something I am not quite aware of when I am in ‘the zone”.

L – Do you have any upcoming classes you would like to promote?

A – I am teaching a class called Fabric Beads, Oddities and Thingamajigs….it is a hoot.
Soooooooo much fun.

So there you have it. Alma is a lovely person and a whimsical artist. I love that she doesn’t limit herself with one medium but simply applies whatever suits her fancy. How about you? Why do you use the medium you do? Did you choose it for any particular reason? If you had to work in another medium what would it be? 

Artist Spotlight part 3: Diana Trout book review

In her book
North Light Books
“I wrote, “Admit that I am scared and do it anyway.” “It” was something that I began to look at more carefully and ask myself what would happen if I did “it” and failed? As it turned out, failure didn’t seem to be earth-shattering. So attempting “it” became exiting. I began to truly understand the truth behind courage – being scared and doing it anyway.
If you’ve read my writings you will understand why I’m drawn to Diana’s work and to this book. My soapbox is all about overcoming your fears and just doing the work. I love that she says it right there in black and white. What is so earth shattering about failure? Not much. Most of the time it is just one step that you need to make on the road to success.
In working through this book you will take a journey through the world of the soul, the space where your wishes and dreams are freed from shadows and let out into the light of day. Diana gives prompts, asks questions, and gently guides you along the path of creative self exploration. My favorite part? She keeps it real. Nothing too schmarmy – just real life experiences and down to earth words that tell it like it is.
Along the way you will learn many different techniques – most of which I hadn’t tried before as they are all about the paper arts. Suminagashi is the one I’m most attracted to. It’s a japanese form of marbling and she makes it look effortless. Diana also covers using resists of all kinds, different ways to use different paints, a few bookbinding techniques, and several image transfer methods. This is a book that I wish I had time to very slowly, step by step, work my way through.
So. Anyone care to come along for the ride? 
Leave a comment and tell me what “IT” might be for you. 
What are you afraid of? What keeps you from trying? Is there really anything earth shattering that might happen if you fail? One lucky commenter will with a copy of Diana’s book. I’ll compile the comments from this post as well as  this one and this one. Check back here Friday to see if you are the lucky one!

Artist Spotlight part 2: Diana Trout – upcoming teaching events

When I introduce you to an artist who is also a great teacher I love to get out the word about where she is teaching next. Diana Trout, who I introduced recently, teaches some wonderfully fun classes that I want to jump right in and take.
I asked Diana the big question – WHY she teaches.
Diana: I started teaching kids in my studio when my kids were young. My neighbors and friends were after me to set it up so I did and discovered that I love it. A lot of what I was doing with the kids was to foster creative problem solving along with good foundations in art and confidence in art making. After a bit, it seemed to me that adults would benefit from my teaching style. 
Teaching feels like a mission. I had no guidance as a child or adult and had to find the path to art without any encouragement. It feels like a privilege to be able to help guide and encourage adults and children and foster their love of art making.
Anything coming up you’d like me to promote?

My DVD, Playful Paper Backgrounds, from Cloth Paper Scissors is now available. It is loaded with techniques on watercolors, paste paper, inks and a section on designing and carving your own rubber stamps (emphasis on design). 

I’ll be teaching at 

October 7-12, 2010. This is a relatively new art retreat that I’m very excited about. I’ll be teaching 
Rescue Book Journal, ColorWheel Journal Quilt, 
Acrylic Glazes & Collage, Journal Spilling Watercolor, 
Journal Spilling Layers 
and Port Townsend, here I come! 
JournalFest, Port Townsend, WA
October 27-31, 2010
Journal Spilling Watercolor, Rescue Book Journal, ColorWheel Paper Quilt
There are still spaces available at both of these retreats. If you are in the area go check them out! And….. I’ll be giving away a copy of Diana Trout’s book, “Journal Spilling” to one lucky reader next week right after I review it for you. Leave comments on this post, on the upcoming review, or on the first spotlight I did of her.

Artist Spotlight part 1: Diana Trout

I’d like to introduce you to another artist whom I admire, the lovely and talented Diana Trout.

Lyric – Have you always known you wanted to be an artist? How did you come to where you are now in your artistic development.

Diana – Oh boy, this will be a long answer. 
In a word, no. Apparently, I loved art as a child but my parents were pretty busy since there were five of us kids and my mom was sick. I remember being given a paint by number set. I loved the paint and hated the numbers. I wound up doing my own thing which led my mother to believe I wasn’t much of an artist. I spent a lot of time in our small town craft shop and used to spend all of my allowance there.
We didn’t have any art in school (mid to late 60’s, catholic school) but we did have plenty of music – all that choir practice! I love music, so decided that was my calling; all through high school and collage, I played guitar and sang in coffee houses. It was a good part-time job! 

D – And so it went. I went to several different commuter colleges, bouncing from one major to another and paying for it myself. Eventually, something snapped in my head and I went to art school and took a few classes. After building a portfolio, I applied to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Everything I did there was magical and I immersed myself completely in painting and drawing the figure. That was it: 35 years later, I’m still sticking with it.

L – I agree – PLAY takes practice. It’s good to think through your work but it is so helpful to take the time to be free. 

L – We have so much in common! Large family, started out and paid our own way through college as musicians. You were lucky to find art early… it took me a while. It’s never too late right?
L – Stranded on a Desert Island – what’s in your art shoebox?
D – My watercolors, definitely and embroidery/sewing kit. I could make my own paper and find fibers there to stitch on. There would probably be berries for ink and sticks to draw with and I could make charcoal sticks easily enough. Better have some matches to start that fire, though. How long would I be there, exactly?

L – Hey we should hang out there together. I could teach you how to make a flint and steel fire and set a game trap for food. Let’s keep it easy though and just spend a few wonderfully isolated days with our art and plenty of food before the yacht comes to pick us up.
L – Your journals have an intriguing balance of rawness and beauty. I have trouble getting too tight in my work. Any hints for staying loose?

D – Oh yes, that is difficult! Practice is the solution, though. It’s a funny thing that adults need to practice re-learning how to play but we really do! Thank you for noticing the “raw/elegance” aesthetic, Lyric. It really is something that I’ve consciously nurtured for a long time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Diana as much as I’ve enjoyed getting to know her. Diana’s blog is titled Hububbery. Go visit her there and say hello. 
You’ve got to love a woman who uses the word Hububbery.

Artist Spotlight part 2: Judy Coates Perez – Teaching

You know I love teaching – the amazing interactions that happen between students and their work and the teacher are inspiring. I’ve watched Judy teach and think she has a gift. If you are going to be in Long Beach at the IQF show next week – run, don’t walk – to sign up for one of her classes!

Judy Coates Perez  on teaching
I try to teach skills, techniques and how to use various media so that people have more options for making their art. I think the more tools you have under your belt the better equipped you will be to communicate your idea or vision. I love working with people and helping them to achieve their creative goals, make the art they envision and unleash their creativity.

International Quilt Festival, Long Beach

Thursday, July 22
Mixed Media Painted Fabric
Using textile paints, gel medium and decorative printed paper images create a fun versatile fabric that can be used to make tote bags, fabric bowls, vessels, sculptural objects or book cloth.

Friday, July 23- 10 am-12 pm Open Studios
3pm- MIU workshop: 
Embossed Metal Origami Pop Up Book
Using aluminum craft metal, simple embossing, alcohol inks and paper we will create a fun little art book, using the fundamentals of origami to create expanding pop up pages. These are so cool, easy to make and they make awesome little gifts. 

Friday July 23, 6-9 pm
Fiesta Ornaments 
Inspired by Mexican tin folk art, these fun and festive ornaments incorporate painting with textile paints, quilting, embossing and sewing metal.

Saturday, July 24
Painting Fabric for Whole Cloth Quilts
From adding details, dimension or shadow to creating fully illustrated scenes, paint offers endless 
opportunities for creating special effects on fabric. Working with various types of fabric paints you will learn different techniques for applying paint to fabric, creating smooth gradations of color and adding fine lines and details.

Artist Spotlight part 1: Judy Coates Perez

I’d love to introduce you to one of my favorite artists. Judy Coates Perez is talented in so many ways. I’ve loved her work since almost the first time I saw art quilts. My first favorite of hers was a weird and wild martian scene. 

There’s A Place Called Mars…   2004   37” x 62”
Judy Coates Perez
Looking at Mars mission photos, I was struck by the contrast between scenes of a rocky, lifeless planet and the rich, fanciful portrayals of Mars in popular culture.  I prefer a fanciful Mars. A place, where flora and fauna from the pages of Ernst Haekel’s book, “Artforms in Nature”, fill a Ray Bradbury inspired world and a 50’s Sci-Fi alien femme fatal watches a song, sung by my sister in Girl scout camp to the melody of “The Snake Charmers Tune”, weave it’s way though the landscape.

This is a machine quilted whole cloth painted quilt. I used textile paints, chromacoal powders, tsukineko inks, foil and beads.

Moon Garden  2008  69” x 56”
Moon Garden is one of my current all time favorite pieces. So clean and beautiful – a perfectly balanced composition in so many ways.

Lyric: I’d love to hear about your background, how did you become an artist?
Judy Coates Perez: I have a graphic design degree from Otis Art Institute of Parsons school of Design. As part of my curriculum I took drawing classes as well as a couple illustration classes. In my typography classes we had to perfectly render enlarged letters from specific typefaces with ruling pens and paint brushes, that really works to develop hand skills.

I learned a lot about painting from my ex when we were in school because his father was an amazing painter and had taught him. The one thing to keep in mind, is that painting is primarily a skill, once you learn some basic techniques, like anything else the more you do it the better you will get. you know- practice, practice practice. I still feel like a painting novice in many ways and would love to learn more since I mainly focused on design while I was in school and now regret not taking more classes on painting.

L: What are some of your inspirations?

J: I derive a lot of inspiration from my life experiences and fascination with global cultural traditions and mythology. When I was 12, my family moved out of our house, put everything in storage and drove to Guatemala, traveling through the US, Mexico and Canada, 18,000 miles in all. We spent a year on the road and rented a house in Antigua Guatemala, studying the arts, culture and archeology of these countries. My mom and I also spent time learning back strap weaving from Indian women in Guatemala. In college I went to Japan to study graphic design and now I have just returned from teaching in New Zealand, I find that it all influences me in some way.

Some of the nature inspired imagery has come from things my kids were studying. For example, when we lived in Texas my son was obsessed with fossils and lichen, I have made work based on both of those subjects.
You can see more of Judy’s work at:
Stay tuned for more about Judy. I’ll spotlight some of her wonderful upcoming classes (she’s a fabulous teacher!) and a review and giveaway of her latest DVD workshop. Leave a comment on this or any of the posts spotlighting Judy for a chance to win. What about Judy’s work inspires you? Have you had a class with her? Tell us about it.

Artist Spotlight part 2:Jane LaFazio – teaching

You all know how much I love teaching! I think that’s another reason I love Jane LaFazio – she is a fantastic teacher – someone who willingly and generously shares her creativity and the joy of art! Here is part two of my interview with this lovely artist. 

Lyric: What do you gain as an artist by teaching?
Jane: On a concrete level, it keeps me making art. I’m always creating artwork to learn the process so I can then teach it to my students. I get great ideas and inspiration from what my students create, based on the so called assignment or technique I’ve shown them. And, teaching suits me. I enjoy it very much, I love to get people sharing stories and art with each other, I love to laugh, and make people laugh, I love seeing individuals access their own creativity, and I love sharing and encouraging the process of art making.

L: Tell me about the work you do a Mundo Lindo.

J: I created Mundo Lindo, a free afterschool art program for 4th and 5th grade kids in low income Escondido in 2007. It was funded by a grant for the first two years, and now the center, where the classes were held, has hired me to continue the program. For 2 hours each week, I teach about 20 kids an art project. We’ve painted palm husks to look like African masks, created papier mache sail boats, drawn and collage Trees of Life, woven watercolor landscapes, made Haiti House pins sell and donated the money to UNICEF for Haiti, sewn small quilts for the Dream Rocket project… wonderful fun projects that I think up each week. The arts programs in schools are nearly non existent, and I’m thrilled to be able to give these kids some creative time each week.

L: Tell me about some of the upcoming workshops you’ll be doing, and where we can find out about them. 

J: My workshop page on my blog is always updated, and tells me I have a very busy summer ahead! In July, I’m teaching for the first time at Idllywild Summer Arts program, it’s a beautiful mountain community about two and half hours from LA and San Diego. I’m teaching a two day mixed media workshop on July 4 & 5 and a wet-felting workshop July 6. I’ll also be teaching at the Long Beach Quilt Festival.
Another new venue for me is a Utah retreat, July 15-18. Limited to 8 students, and I’ll teach 6 hours or so each day. Should be very fun!
WHERE: Huntsville, Utah
WHEN: Thursday, July 15 – Sunday, July 19, 2010

So – do you love what Jane does as much as I do? Leave a comment and tell us about what you think makes a really great teacher. Have you had any fantastic experiences during a class? What was it about that teacher that really opened things up for you? Remember to leave a comment here or here to be entered to win a copy of her DVD (which I’ll review next week).

Artist Spotlight part 1: Jane LaFazio

Hello Friends. I’d like to introduce you to another artist whose work I admire and enjoy. I think you will come to love her artwork as well.

Jane LaFazio is a mixed-media artist working in San Diego California. She has degrees in Graphic Design and Asian Studies, worked for a bit as an international flight attendant, in marketing, and in graphic design. Her career as a full time artist began in watercolors and gradually morphed into collage, sewing, and cloth. I’m very glad it did. Her work with thread and fiber is fascinating, rich, and deep. I was so happy that she took the time out of her very busy schedule this month to answer some interview questions.

Lyric: You are a prolific artmaker – something I hope to become when my children are no longer consume most of my time. (years and years away!) Have you always been prolific?

Jane: I’ve been blessed with a lot of natural energy, and now I’m focusing it on making art. I LOVE making art. As I mentioned, I create a lot of artwork for my workshops and classes, and that act pushes me to finish a project, and work out the problems, rather than just walk away from it. If I’m scheduled to teach something the next day, I’d better figure it out!

L: Do you have to work to discipline yourself to create art?

J: No, I need the discipline for the household chores, not the art making! I have a wonderful, supportive husband who cooks, shops and even does the laundry. Yes, I appreciate him VERY much!

L: Do you have any great habits that help you produce?

J: I work small. I like to work small, but it also makes it easier to do many different projects or types of art. And I almost always have some project that I work on in the evenings, watching TV with my husband.

L: I love working small as well. You can always have something with you no matter where you are. You work in a broad range of media and a variety of styles. Do you think this is an advantage, a disadvantage?

J: Seen in the light of “professional artist” probably a disadvantage. What did Kelli Nina Perkins call herself, a “promiscuous art maker.” That would be me. I love all kinds of art, so I’m always switching media and beginning a new passion, for about a week, then I’m on to something else! My sketching and watercolor: journal style has stayed true and consistent for a number of years now. In the past year, I’ve begun creating heavily hand stitched needle-felted pieces that I intend to stay with—I love the work that’s coming out of me and want it to become some of my signature work. But I’ll still see something in a magazine or on line, and rush to my studio to create something I’ve never tried before. I do LOVE a new technique!

L: What inspires your work? Do you work from realistic sketches and try to reproduce them? Are you inspired by your materials?

J: I get inspiration from everywhere. Online, magazines, walks, museum visits, art fairs, shopping… I don’t plan any of my work. No sketches to work out the kinks for me! I just dive in. that’s where working small works for me. I’ll often create a number of small pieces, then assemble them into something larger. But always, with no real plan. I work intuitively, by starting with a material or a color usually. 

Ralph’s Letters, my ‘breakthrough’ piece was created using love letters from an old boyfriend, and I just began a page at a time. (Breakthrough because it was my largest piece to date, and got in many juried show AND was my first piece published in Cloth Paper Scissors, thanks to Lesley Riley.)

Ralph’s Letters

L: What are your favorite materials?

J: Needle and thread. I started as a watercolor artist, and as I moved into collaging my watercolor paintings, I started sewing on the paper. Now I also sew on fabric.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Jane and her work a little better. She is a prolific blogger and I encourage you to head over and browse through her work. It’s complex and rich and beautiful. Next week I’ll tell you about some of the amazing work she does in teaching and sharing her creativity. At the end of the month I’ll be giving away a copy of her DVD workshop “Small Art Quilts” to a lucky reader. The winner will be chosen from among the comments left on any one of the artist spotlight posts about Jane – including this one. How about telling me your favorite “creative habit.” Tell me something that helps you get the work done. (Yes, I am struggling with that particular issue right now. Can you tell?)

Artist Spotlight part 1: Alisa Burke

Happy April friends! What a lovely month. With the arrival of exuberant swaths of color to my local landscape I’d like to introduce you to an artist that is also exuberant in her use of color.

I’ve been following her blog for a little while now, have read her book (more on that next week) and am in love with her wild and whimsical take on the world. I know you’ll enjoy her work as much as I do.

Lyric: We have something fun in common. My mother was a potter, as were your parents. My father taught high school art classes. What are some of your favorite memories of growing up with artists as parents. 

Alisa: Growing up my life was full of creativity. Because my parents were potters who were running a business from home, my brother and I always had access to crafts, supplies, projects, and an understanding and appreciation of art. Both my mom and dad incorporated creativity into everything we did- dressing up and hiking into the forest for tea parties, making and selling our own crafts, playing with clay and learning how to throw pots on a wheel, having the freedom and supplies to draw and paint whenever I wanted, letting us draw all over wall before they repainted the living room and so much more.  My own desire and love for drawing and art was nurtured at a very young age and while it seems many people find art later in life, I am grateful that my passion was recognized and supported throughout my entire life! 

L: Tell me about your transition to being a full-time artist.

Alisa: All I ever wanted was to be a full time artist and I really feel like I have been working toward that dream since high school. I knew declaring painting and printmaking as my major in college meant I probably would have to work a “normal” job while pursuing my art on the side and this is exactly what I have been doing since college.  I landed in a marketing position that enabled me to be creative but it still did not satisfy my craving to work for myself as an artist. I decided to get serious and I finally made a plan, set goals and with my husband’s support began working as hard as I could to build a  creative business that could pay my share of the bills- just like my “normal job”.  This process took me five years to get to a place where I could walk away from my job.  Honestly it was really difficult but I wanted it BAD and I never gave up and finally last spring I quit my job- truly one of the best days of my life! While things often don’t live up to my expectations this transition has succeeded them.  I have never worked this hard but it is so rewarding to be doing what I love every day, challenging myself, making my own rules, setting my own goals and making art for a living.  Now I cannot imagine things going any other way- the long wait, the working by day and making art by night, the years of creating, learning and growing as an artist have all made this transition so worth it all. 

L: Why graffiti – and why turn your work into functional objects such as your very cool clutches? 

Alisa: Since college painting classes, I have always loved creating layers of color, texture and text. I used to create messy backgrounds and then paint my assignments on top of them. Because I am drawn to the concept of layers or messy paint, I think moving towards graffiti inspired techniques was a natural progression for me.  I have never been traditional with the things that I create and was always looking for unique ways to redefine my art. When I needed a purse for a wedding I cut up one of my canvas paintings and sewed it into a purse which sparked a whole new way of looking at canvas paintings.  

L: I find it interesting that your environment, the pictures you’ve posted of your home – white, clean, colorful yet your art is exuberantly messy.  My art tends to be very controlled while my environment is out of control messy.

A: This is such a great question!  My art is messy, colorful and wild, my studio is organized but every inch is covered in images, inspiration and art. At the end of the day I actually need a visual break from it all! Keeping our home decorated in lots of white, clean and organized helps me feel like I can relax and escape from my creative chaos. 

L: Do you have any fears or inhibitions about your art? How do you work through them? 

Alisa: Honestly, I would have to say that art might be the one and only area in my life that I am fearless about. I am REALLY cautious, hesitant and often fearful in my everyday life (typically about silly things) but when I paint and create, all my worries, my inhibitions and my fear melts away.  I have felt grounded and solid in my creative passions for so long (likely because my upbringing) that I have very few inhibitions making, selling and promoting my art. Even when I run into rejection, dead end opportunities and financial challenges, there is this peace and confidence in knowing that being an artist is who I am and nothing will ever change that.

Are you as delighted as I am with Alisa and her work? Next week I’ll review her book and yes, I’ll be having another giveaway at the end of the month so leave a comment for a chance to win.

Artist Spotlight part 3: Melanie Testa – up and coming

Our last week with Melanie Testa has arrived and I thought I’d give her the chance to let you know of a wonderful event she has coming up. If you can get to Hampton, VA – run, do not walk, to join her at Art and Soul…. in her own words:

For me, teaching is about interacting with students, the exchange and interplay of knowledge to such an extent that I too learn and grow from the experience. The supremely awesome thing is that students have ‘beginners mind’, an attitude of openness and eagerness and a lack of preconceptions. Who wouldn’t feel invigorated by this? In May, I will be teaching at an event called Art and Soul.  This retreat is held in Hampton Virginia, just as the weather begins to warm up and all the flowers are in bloom.

I will be teaching two classes, Inspired Journaling, every-single-day! on Sunday, May 23  which will cover visual journaling and we will explore using resists, paints and glues to create luscious pages in our journals. No need to ‘worry’ over your drawing skillz! I will help push and cajole those fear where they belong.

And a Soy Wax Batik class on Monday, May 24 . Soy wax, beside being very easy to use, is an ecologically safe alternative to paraffin. It is a magical medium that yields almost instantaneous results. To make it even easier on you, we will be using paint instead of my beloved dye which has proven to yield just as lovely results!

So if you have the time and are near this fabulous retreat, please come and join in on the fun! I would love to have you.

I’d love to thank Melanie for taking the time to say hello to you all. As in our first introduction, she is an amazing artist and a wonderful person. Don’t forget to leave a comment – especially if you’ve had a class with Melanie in the past. What was your favorite thing about the class?

You can leave one comment on each of the four Artist Spotlight posts about Melanie. Late Tuesday night I’ll randomly choose one winner from among comments on the four posts to receive this original collaborative work. Melanie sent a lovely sheer organza printed with ginkgo leaves for me to work with. I’ve layered it with a peachy piece of hand-dyed cotton, printed with another set of ginkgo leaves. I also layered a few more leaves on the surface with a hint of gold foil. The 5″x7″ piece is machine and hand stitched with a spray of gold beads scattered across the surface.

Wednesday morning I’ll announce the winner so please be sure to check back so that you can send me your contact information. 

If you can’t get enough of gingko leaves head on over to Melanie’s blog – where she has created a little work of art with the ginkgo fabric that I sent to her. Same deal there – comment on each of her four posts about me. I’d especially love it if you’ve had a class with me – tell them what you loved or learned.

Artist Spotlight part 3: Melanie Testa – process

The past two weeks I’ve enjoyed introducing you to a favorite artist of mine, Melanie Testa. Today I’d like to introduce you to her artwork. Together we’ll learn a little more about her process.

Lyric: I’ve seen just a bit of your visual journaling and it is just as lovely as your artwork. How do sketching and drawing help you in your textile work? Why did you choose textiles rather than a more traditional media?
Melanie: My journals are so import to me that I can’t imagine not keeping them. I draw inspiration for stamps, marks, actual artwork, they help me to remain focused creatively. Just today, I met up with a friend and we went to the Met to draw, I feel so alive when I am looking at and evaluating what I see. When the line looks like what I am trying to draw, it is such a thrill. I can’t take that for granted! But even though I utilize my journals and sometimes even share them when I write articles, the journals are private, they feel intensely personal to me.
As for why I work in cloth? I could not have it any other way. I just tried to imagine myself as an oil painter. I need the ragged edge, the dye, the stamps, the sewing machine.

L: I am fascinated by your juxtaposition of symbols and words with imagery from nature. How do you go about choosing which images to combine? How did you come upon the process of layering images with sheers?

M: Working with sheers came about as a result of journaling. I came to a place where I found my journals held more artistic focus and intention than my quilt art, but my quilt art was more important to me! So I evaluated the difference in approach and technique. I had been using tracing paper in my journals, I would trace a drawing from one page onto tracing paper, paint around and over the tracing, then glue that onto another painted page. The transparency is what held sway. So I figured out cloth equivalents to my favorite techniques. Silk organza became tracing paper and could be dyed with Procion MX dyes.
I started using words in my art because I was working with a man who used words in his paintings but I could not stand how he did it! I started using text and symbols because I knew there had to be a better approach. The words ought to merge with and become one with the piece almost as though in pentimento. As for using nature in my work, I find great solace in all things natural. 
L: Do you work from a plan or do you improvise as you go?
M: I like to plan loosely. Right now I just started a series if 20 Common Birds in Decline. I am working on an image of an Evening Grosbeak. the drawing of the bird needs to be perfected before I begin because the artwork is only as good as your original drawing. But the background and the collaged elements are not in the original drawing. I like to leave as much as possible to chance.
L: What is it about birds that draws you to use them so much in your artwork?

M: When I was a girl, I wanted to be a bird, to be able to flit, watch and leave by taking flight! I began bonding with birds when I was a teenager, my father had bought a bird feeder and a Roger Torey Peterson identification book and we began putting names to shapes and colorings. As an adult, I started keeping my own feeder, then bought binoculars, and now study and read all I can. Right now, I am an armchair bird watcher! Simply? The shiny sparkle of light in a birds eye bowls me over, I can’t resist it. 
L: Your use of stitching is so well integrated into the composition of your work. Do you begin with your stitched lines in mind or do those ideas come afterwards.
M: I do loosely plan the images used in my work. As I print, paint and stamp, ideas will float past and reveal themselves, but it is only when I get to the sewing machine that I can listen to and enact a plan for the stitch.
L: If you went to a desert island for a week and could only take a shoebox of art supplies, what would it contain?
My backpack is about the size of a shoebox and often contains, scrap, batting, needles, thread, embroidery floss and beads, a journal and a small box of paints, one pencil, two pens (Pilot t500 and a Pentel Pocketbrush) and a niji water brush. My wallet can be left behind to accommodate more cloth, perferably hand dyed dupioni, my current cloth crush. 🙂
So dear readers, are you as in love with Melly’s work as I am? Her process fascinates me and I’ve enjoyed studying it and sharing with with you.
I’ve finished the 5×7 piece from the ginkgo fabric that Melanie sent to me. Next week I’ll tally up all of the comments on the four posts featuring her. Yes, you can leave a comment on each post and be counted four times!

I’ll throw the lot into a random number generator (or have one of the kidlets shout out a number between so and so) and the lucky winner will be sent this lovely little piece of art. It is 5×7 and made with the beautiful piece of organza printed by Melanie. I do believe that she is posting the piece she made with the fabric I sent her on her blog this week as well.

Artist Spotlight part 2: Inspired to Quilt

I told you last week how much I admired Melanie Testa as an artist and as a friend. This week I want to introduce you to her book, “Inspired To Quilt.” The title is appropriate as her book is truly inspiring.

I purchased my copy from her at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last October and spent a lovely and very early morning flight home perusing it. I blogged about that morning here. That page also shows a little sketch copied out of her book.
In the interest of full disclosure, Melanie and I were both contracted to write our books through Quilting Arts at about the same time. Now the gushing – I must say that the books they have put out recently through Interweave Press are beautifully laid out. I love, love, love the layout and the general lush and beautiful look of “Inspired To Quilt.”
Now I’m one of those people who will get completely involved in the imagery of a book like this. I “read’ my magazines by flipping through from the back and absorbing the pictures. I love good photography and great layouts and graphic design. And I am completely enchanted by Melanie’s artwork.
Let me tell you now about some of the more in-depth reasons why I love this book and think you will too. Melanie’s gentle and encouraging nature comes shining through in her writing. (Yes, I DID finally read it.) I love that she urges the reader to experiment and play as they try out each of the  processes in this technique oriented book.

There are step by step instructions for working with dye, for printmaking, stamping, stenciling, and dye painting. Melanie walks you through her process one layer and page at a time. She shows you how she begins with sketched ideas, creates layers of cloth and imagery in cottons and sheers and stitching. You are carefully guided through her construction process as images are built and cloth is added and taken away and embellished until the composition is completed. She goes even further to the back of the textile art, explaining finishing techniques and edge finishes.
If you are a project person there is something in “Inspired To Quilt” for you too. I think Melanie’s Pretty Purses are absolutely sweet. Other projects include a Sewing Holster, Merit Badges, and Artists Trading Cards.
So, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of this book. Take a look at the Inspired to Quilt FaceBook Fan Page to read an ongoing discussion about the book and to join in reader challenges.  
And finally, remember that both Melaine and I are working on a textile postcard to give away to lucky commenters on our blogs. She is introducing me to her readers on her blog if you want to pop over and say hello there too.  Any comments on my posts that feature Melanie are eligible for the drawingso go back and leave a comment for last week and pop in the next two weeks as well.

Do you want to hear something amazing? We both sent each other dyed and printed fabric – without telling each other what it was and guess what!?! We both sent fabric printed with the SAME thing – ginkgo leaves. Now THAT is serendipity!

Artist Spotlight part 1: Melanie Testa

I would like to introduce you to an artist whose work I greatly admire. 

Still Life

I have had the pleasure of spending time with Melanie Testa on two separate occasions; as we taught at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last year, and when we filmed our Quilting Arts DVD Workshops. She is simply delightful as a person and I find her artwork to be beautiful, layered with meaning and texture, and intriguing. She is one who thinks and cares deeply both about her art, about other people, and about the world around her. Her laughter lights up a room and lifts your spirit. Her artwork draws you in and takes you on a journey. 

I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

Lyric: What is your story, how did you become an artist?

Melanie: I have wanted to be an artist since I was a child. I remember watching TV and being riveted when I saw imagery of Andy Warhol walking the streets of New York. My mom used to sew her own clothing and I remember watching her pin a wool plaid skirt pattern out and knew the side seams would not match if she were to proceed, so I stopped her. Then a friend of hers asked if I would like to make a vest, it was a cute little vest and it had hand sewn ribbons bordering the inside front edge. It won a blue ribbon at the fair. I also won a blue ribbon for my Sugar Collection, but that is another story.

So when I was 19, I took a traditional quilt making course at the local Handcraft Center. I fell head over heels for fabric, really I fell in love with conversational prints and vowed to go to art school to become a Textile Designer. It took about 8 years for me to settle down and focus enough to make that a reality. I was accepted into the Fashion Institute of Technology as a 27 year old adult student. I was married and lived two hours outside the city, but we worked together and made it work. My husband has always been quite supportive of me and my creative efforts.
Once I was out of college and had some creative tools under my belt, I took some workshops by well known surface design artists like Jane Dunnewold and Ann Johnston. Making what I had learned into an expression all my own is, of course the adventure of a lifetime.

L:  Was it something you wanted to do from a young age or did you take a more circuitous path? Do you have any training in basic design?

M: I was able to afford two years of schooling at F.I.T and do have an associates degree in Textile/Surface Design. The education I got from F.I.T was more of a technical schooling. I was taught to put things in repeat, to paint flower and to weave. My real education came as a result of being a Vintage Poster Restoration Artist. I restore posters by Talouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, and interestingly enough, Andy Warhol. I took this as an opportunity to evaluate drawing and painting styles and I learned to mix paint to exact specification. 

Still Life In Time

L:  Do you consciously think about the elements of art as you create?

M:  No, I do not. I work intuitively. I think the basic tenets of art making are well and deeply ingrained at this point that I am not really aware of what I am doing at all. I can slow myself down to describe it when asked.

L:  What are your fears as an artist and how do you face/overcome/talk yourself out of them?

M:  My fears. 
That my art isn’t good enough. Isn’t this everyone’s fear? And I don’t think this is a bad thing. If my art isn’t good enough, if I didn’t hit the ‘right’ note, then I still have room to grow, to dig deeply into what I am trying to get at. It is sort of zen, when you think of it this way, as though the very thing you strive to do sits, as if a seed, within what you are doing right now. Being an artist is really about fostering that seed, prompting new growth.

Next week I’ll introduce you to the lovely book that Melanie has written. It has been an inspiration to me over the past several months. And here is something special. During the month of March Melanie and I will collaborate on a small work of art – a textile postcard. At the end of the moth it will be given away to a lucky reader, chosen from the comments on each of the four posts that feature Melanie and her work. You may post each week  and have an even better chance of winning this postcard. Perhaps next week I’ll give you a little peek at what we are starting.

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