no such thing as doing it wrong

Most of all, there is this truth: No matter how great your teachers may be, and no matter how esteemed your academy’s reputation, eventually you will have to do the work by yourself. Eventually, the teachers won’t be there anymore.
Elizabeth Gilbert

This quote is absolutely perfect because it is exactly the point I try to get across to my students. The thing I seek most when I teach is to give my students the skills to figure stuff out when I’m NOT there.

The only two rules I have in any of my classes are these: “no masterpieces allowed,” and no “I can’t.” As soon as a student starts to worry about getting something wrong or making something exactly right, then she is inhibited, stalled, and working from a place of fear rather than from a place of creative exploration.

What is the worst that can happen if you make a mistake?
(Seriously – figure it out and write it down. Right now. It probably isn’t nearly as bad as you think.)
Sometimes the best way to learn something is by doing it wrong and looking at what you did.
Neil Gaiman
I’m a huge fan of making mistakes. Sometimes they are the most valuable part of the learning process but only if you stop and learn from the mess you just made. The process of analysis is key to progression when you are an artist.

Ask questions of yourself such as, “WHY do I love or hate this?” “WHAT about this is important to me?” and “HOW did this technique go awry and what can I do differently next time” Ask yourself, “Was this really a mistake or is it the next thing I need to add into my work?” You never know when feeling free enough to make bad art will lead to the best art you’ve made yet.

What is the question you need to ask yourself next time you make a mistake?

On the road: the desert southwest

imageThere are some landscapes that make my heart sing. image

imageI drink them in like life giving water.


I take photographs hoping to save some of the beauty for later.  But then i get home and there are kits to make for students and supplies to order and kids to schlepp. All wonderful things. I keep telling myself that there is a time and place for everything. There will be a day when i will have time to come home and create the art I’m longing to make before those inspirations slip away again.

Creative Wisdom: baby steps

Turn off your computer: go to the library. Bring your sketchbook along.
Randomly open books (over in the non-fiction section) and jot down ideas.

Be Inspired!

Find Joy.
Where does your JOY come from?
My joy – and my peace – comes from gratitude.
It is a blessing greater than I could have ever imagined
to be here, with you, doing this.

Be Inspired.
I am continually inspired by the world around me.
My fellow artists and students inspire me with their creativity.
My family inspires me with their love and support.

Create Beauty.
The world can be what me make of it.
In any small way we can create order from chaos,
peace from sorrow.
Our hands, and our hearts can create beauty.

This week I’ll be spotlighting some things that I think would be beautiful gifts for this season but I wanted to start with this. I believe we have been sent here to make the world a better place. There are numerous way we can do so. Shop local or support fair trade projects. Create with your own hands. Serve others with what you have. Give your time, talents, or simply your love.

Finding Purpose

I’ve been thinking about the purpose behind both my business and personal goals …
…trying to distill thoughts and feelings into just a few words.
What is it that I want for myself? What do I wish to give to YOU?
My answer is simply this:
Find Joy
Be Inspired
Create Beauty
I’ve revamped my Artists Statement to better reflect these ideas.

In a world where too often, the images we feed ourselves are full of violence and fear, my goal as an artist is to create beauty, to uplift, and to remind us of the strength we all possess.  In a many layered process I gather intriguing materials both old and new. I marvel as plain cloth absorbs dye and changes appearance. I cut, piece and stitch, print, paint and embellish. Slowly order emerges from disarray, beauty from chaos.
The tactile nature of cloth, its texture, richness and malleability are what have drawn me to this medium. Fabric has a history almost as old as humankind; we cover ourselves in cloth every morning and wrap ourselves with it at night. Quilts hold a particular fascination for me. During a time when creative women were not allowed to be artists, they were able to stitch together beautiful works of art imbedded in objects of utility. My quilts are freed from utility and allowed full freedom of expression as fine art.

Thanks to Alyson Stanfield’s book, I’d Rather Be In The Studio, this was easier than it might have been. She has a great list of questions to ask yourself.
She’s coming to Durham on May 20th and 21st for a fantastic No-Excuses Art Marketing workshop. It’s part of the Professional Art Quilter’s Alliance – South spring conference but is open to the public. I’d love to see you there! You can look here for the workshop description and to sign up.

Have you thought about the reasons you do what you do?
What are your gifts? Why do you create? What is your purpose?
If you have any thoughts or critiques on my statement I’d truly appreciate hearing those as well.

Gathering Inspiration

Inspiration for art is everywhere you look. I’m at the beach with my family and it’s rainy, cold, and windy. We knew this going in but the idea of an indoor pool and some other fun things to do made the short trip worthwhile. We spent part of the day at a lovely aquarium and I could have spent hours and hours mesmerized by the schools of fish swimming in circles in the giant tanks. Or the jellyfish undulating against a bright blue background. Instead I had to help keep track of the little ones. I only lost them once or twice.

So how does one capture that soothing, round and round, feeling in art? I don’t think I could do with a literal representation of fish or jellies. It was the motion that hypnotized me. When I get home I’ll upload a bunch of pics to Flickr for you.

Oh, and last night we watched Finding Nemo, projected huge on my bedroom wall with the new toy. It was amazing. My favorite part was a scene in the end credits where your entire field of vision is filled with waving anemone fronds. All of the kids were laying on the bed with their arms and feet in the air making shadows and waving back and forth along with the anemone. I couldn’t run down and get my video camera fast enough to get a shot.

If you looked up from your computer what inspiration for art would you find right in front of you? What else inspired you today?
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