Category Archives: on being a studio artist

A New Show, A New Store and A Little Spring

fabric is flying…this week

fabric is flying…this week

I have been working away in the midst of the never-ending winter here in Michigan. I feel the clock ticking down to spring and a garden but am really making the most of my indoor time. And I am appreciating it.


A few catch ups for you:

1. I am currently in Lisa Call‘s Master class and one of the goals I have given myself is to track my actual studio and art business time . I have logged in 58 hours this week. I felt like I was working hard and moving forward but never had any really numbers to justify those thoughts.   Good news: This week Monday through Friday, I logged 58 great hours of art time: 46 actual studio time hours and 12 art business hours.  Woohoo and no wonder I am tired  tonight. Bad news: I am not ready to show you what I am working on yet.

2. I have work hung at the Electric Cheetah restaurant. Last Friday, I hung 5 of my pieces at the restaurant in their mini art gallery section and Saturday went for dinner there to celebrate. Go if you are in the area as they will likely be there for 2 months. It was a great learning experience in having a solo show (lots of work but rewarding ) and it was received well there. Nice to have my art be seen.

Show at the Electric Cheetah

Show at the Electric Cheetah

3. I found a new store just a few miles from my home. I went today to visit and was very happy to see bright lighting, modern fabrics and a great store owner who was helpful and enthusiastic about her upcoming classes and events. She will be hosting a Modern Quilt guild meeting at her store on Tuesday April 1st at 6:30 pm if you are interested. Super excited to see her come to the area and I wish her well. 

Stitched Studio opening in Grand Rapids

Stitched Studio opening in Grand Rapids


I bought a few fabrics for fun summertime making.

Lotta Jansdotter love

Lotta Jansdotter love

4. A wonderful friend Lynne sent me some spring last week.  The multi-talented Lynne is one of the first people I made a group quilt with. She made these beautiful butterflies for me sending a little spring my way. Thanks Lynne! I love my friends I have made along the way !

Lynne's butterflies

Lynne’s butterflies

DSC_6900It really will come. Spring is coming soon.

Time for 2014 Planning

Paint chips for my year of color study

Paint chips for my year of color study

I spent some time over the past few weeks planning my year out. Last year in Lisa Call’s Setting Goals class, I made very specific goals which I did again this year.  I am not going to bore you with all the specific details but have decided to group them together under broad categories to share with you.



My sweet Aunt gave this book to me for Christmas. She said she knows how much I love and appreciate color. Can you even imagine a life without crayons? I loved to spend time coloring with my kids when they were younger and still love the smell and freshness of a new box of crayons. Can you imagine a life without color or noticing color? My uncle is colorblind and he says his black and white world is not so noisy as he imagines a world of wild colors to be.

I am digressing. But it leads to my set of goals for 2014.

1. I want to study color. I have never taken a class studying color and my science brain wants to know and explore more. So I pulled together what I have and what I have purchased based on others recommendations.  I will spend time each week reading and doing some of these experiments on paper and with small fabric sketches. It will just be a small beginning but it will be a push in the right direction as I think you can know never enough about color.



My personal color study texts

2. Along the same lines of studying color, I am taking a class with Carol Soderlund at the Barn in May.  I want to understand how to dye the colors that I choose and that appeal to me. Serendipity in dyeing is so much fun and really thrills me. But about 50 percent of the time, I want specific colors and just don’t have the skill to make a particular color or set of colors.

3. My big goal : I want to make lots of art this year. My numbers goal is 15 -20 pieces finished and completed down to the hanging sleeve and label.  I need to narrow it down though with sizes this week. Then,  I want to realistically write them on the calendar like an assignment and complete the assignment pretending its homework.  And by realistically, it needs to fit into the calendar that week meaning that I need to do a better job estimating my time on my job tasks.

4. I will keep up with studio clean up after each project and do it quickly so I can move on to the next piece. I tend to procrastinate with this and love taking time sifting through the leftovers.


No more obsessive scrap sifting

No more obsessive scrap sifting

5. I will keep up adding things to my website, maintaining this journal on my blog and taking better photos.

6. But , most importantly, I really want to have confidence in my work, passion in what I am doing and always remember what a privilege it is to be an artist. If, at any time, the goals get in the way of enjoying what I am doing with my art, I am taking time to figure out why and what’s getting in the way of it being fun. Then I will be right back at those goals.

How about you? Now that it almost February, do you have your year all lined up and planned out?


Return to the Land of Art Making

Vermont Sunset tonight

Vermont Sunset tonight

Well, it went from manic holiday making which I found more fun than I ever imagined to manic holiday fun cooking, shopping , wrapping and family celebrating.  My husband and son left the day after Christmas for a soccer tournament at Disney so I hung out with my girls and purged my house and studio. This was an epic manic event which involved several trips to the recycling center and Goodwill but all the mania was wearing me out so I needed a sense of control again. 🙂 I am sure if you are , in any way, a manic maker, you understand exactly where I am coming from. (Otherwise this is a ludicrous post and you can enjoy my pictures. ) The house and studio were more than out of control and I wanted to start the year out – in control.


Another one for you visual peeps

Another one for you visual peeps

Once my son and husband arrived home, we loaded up the car and drove 14 hours in bitter cold to our house in Vermont on New Year’s Day. I arrived here realizing I had a horrible sinus infection so laid here in front of the fire for the last three days. My neighbor brought me this concoction and I tried it. But also with an antibiotic.

My neighbor's cold remedy

My neighbor’s cold remedy

I was not at all listening to my body which was getting really tired after all the manic making and holiday stuff. Lesson learned once again: If you want to make holiday gifts, start early in the year and have fun making gifts year round rather than during December which is one of the busiest month’s of the year.

I returned to the land of art making today. I was kinder to myself. I played as I felt rusty.  I took out a set of fat eighth’s I had dyed during a class last winter.


I just started mindless piecing and really enjoyed drawing fine little lines in my fabric.


mindless return to art

mindless return to art

It felt really good to return to the land of making. What are you working on?

Workshop Withdrawal

I vowed it would not happen this time. I promised myself I would not come home to workshop withdrawal. I have been to six intensive workshops at the Barn and each time I have returned home, I fall flat. It takes way too much time to regain my momentum in the studio. The first few days I catch up on everything that is undone from my absence : I clean (always a novel concept), I iron clothes instead of fabric, I run errands that really can wait, I cook great dinners and I make cookies. I procrastinate. I do everything but return to the studio.

I rationalize it thinking I am overstimulated with new ideas. I write down all of the ideas in my journal. And I do nothing with them. Then, I think I am useless as an art quilter. After seeing all the great work that others have done, I compare myself to the famous and fall woefully short. I order books that will make me smarter.  I review my notes.

Then, I relax.  The studio is in order. I am going this weekend to travel  to see my daughter at college in Iowa.  I am going to love on her and have fun with her. I am not going to think of my workshop withdrawal. Instead, on Monday I will do what I always do when I return from a workshop: make a baby quilt or two. It has worked every time.

What do you do when the adrenaline from a workshop is gone?

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Day

 I really love to put binding on. From cleaning up the edges, to sitting and hand-stitching it down and the signaling of the end of a project, I love it.

I love my new 60mm Olfa rotary cutter. I don’t know why I thought I was using the largest size when it was the 45mm one that has carried me through the last few years. I never noticed I had lost the bigger one .

Scraps in a basket might be worth re-visiting for a small Rooflines project.

A green Olfa mat is best. The blades do not dull as quickly with this mat. Again, a recent observation after my class in December in which I was going through blades every few hours and not necessarily secondary to poor technique.

Two healthy adults drive each other crazy inside the house in the month of January. Good thing I remembered that going to the coffee shop was an option today.

Some random thoughts for you on a rainy 60 degree January day here in Michigan. 🙂

A Few Updates

     I looked at my last post date (after a prompt from a friend) and couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted in over a week. So, I return and will give you a quick update.

Vacation: We returned home last Saturday to a houseful of furniture which needed to be moved back into place as we had our hardwood floors refinished while we were away.What a mess of dust to return to. And my college daughter was home on winter break and just left yesterday so I wanted to spend some time with her.  It also just takes me a good 48 hours to transition and get back up and running smoothly. No matter how efficient I try to be!

Vermont: Had a great vacation and I was a hermit working away and enjoying my time with family. I  made cheese one day and will share tomorrow. Very fun. Very little snow but they did ski with lots of snow made by the snow guns.

My class (Lisa Call Working in a Series): I am still in a lovefest with this class. I have had my moments of self doubt (why should I be taking this class? who do I think I am fitting in to this class?  why in the world would I think this piece of fabric would work or this color?  I don’t even like this piece so why would I show it to her, my classmates or you ? Why am I working so hard?) Ok maybe a few hours or  a day or two of self doubt. But in the end, I just want to create and be more focused in my creativity. Working in a series is putting everything I have previously learned into a framework. Have I made anything exceptional? No, that isn’t the point. Learning how to move forward is and to create more work is. You work hard and I am learning to be patient with myself and my work. Well worth every minute of work and money I have spent on this class.

    I see glimpses of hope in each piece as I move forward-an area of each piece that I like and can improve upon. In the next piece. And the next piece is what I am working on!

PS- I say all this even after I made one huge wrong cut in a piece last week-it wasn’t salvageable so I have no new pictures for you.  I have moved on.:)

New Lights

     This may not be very exciting to you. But I am sooo excited as today an electrician came to install some new track lights for me in my studio. There is a huge long boring story behind this as the box of lights has been sitting in the studio for way too long but I won’t bore you. It has become a joke actually in the family but I have been patiently waiting for a friend to install them-for months.

      But today was the day. Look up at the ceiling-very exciting to have it done.

     I had to clean before they came as they warned me about drywall dust. Not much dust at all but  it is very nice to have a really clean studio.

     This is taken with just the recessed lights on and daylight. The colors when I photograph are really washed out in comparison to how I see them.

  This is a little better and brighter I think but I will have to angle the lights differently now that I see this. But definitely truer to the actual colors I see without really fussing with my camera settings.

    One more picture of clear clean tables.

    And now I will go deal with this. And not tell my family because the saga of the lights continues.

    I also need to quickly get to work on the piece you just saw on my design board which is due on Sunday. I feel remarkably relaxed since I have to travel to Vermont tomorrow.  The dog ate my homework or more likely the airlines lost my luggage would be a good excuse. I shouldn’t even say that as both have happened before.

    And I think I am just not so nervous about my class anymore. I am really accepting where I am and trying to not be impatient with moving forward. Challenged and working hard but not nervous. Nice to be back and realize how crazy I can make myself.

Keep Looking For That Road

     I just finished a few more black and white pieces. I just wanted to push myself to use these small pieces to critically take a look at what I did and didn’t like about a quick improvisational design. (And to get ready for a certain class which you inevitably  start with a black and white piece which I dread). I didn’t spend much time on them but, again, they do bring the design sharply into focus.

    But the saving moment  for these little pieces: they just got me moving and wanting to do more. And gave me time to think about what I want to do the next year and bring in to focus what I really don’t want to do. You may wonder why I would want to finish a “study” piece and the answer is-practice and more practice.

Looking For The Road #2
15×19 – 2011

Looking For The Road #3
14×18 -2011

     I just want to add paint to these. But I won’t. I will just let them be black and white. And not be afraid of it when I have to use it in a few weeks.

    But to add to that- that is not to say I may not try more with paint added. Aren’t I fickle?

    Be creative, my friends.

Feeling Torn

     I am giving myself all kind of explanations on why I just want to sew like this again. Take a look.

Red Pepper Quilts

Maybe because I really need some spring and am tired of all the dreariness.


 Maybe because I just miss commercial fabrics.

Film In The Fridge

Maybe because it’s the crisp white.

I could try some fabric from

Or from Whipstitch Fabrics.

Or I could just go upstairs and complete one of my many unfinished projects. Why does that feel like work today?

Maybe I just need spring. Or a trip to Meijer Gardens.

 Be creative, my friends!

2010 Wrap Up

                                                     Unpacking-notice no clothes just fabric and supplies

    I am really not one for resolutions. I guess because they usually involve me losing some amount of weight. And it just comes back.  I am more for making a list and getting it done.  Setting goals. That feels better for me.  It’s probably all the same thing but just what motivates you to change , do something differently or accomplish something.

     So, I felt like I should take a look at what I have learned in the past year. Since I am a newbie, maybe it would help me with what I need to do next.

(I feel like this is one of those essays you write when you get back from your summer vacation in elementary school. I give you permission to skip this and go directly to the pictures.)

2010 : What I have Learned

1. I learned that even though I might not like the piece I am working on, I need to push through and finish it. It’s the pushing through part where I usually learn things about design, color or the unpredictablity of a composition.

                                                                 on my wall today

2. I learned that I have many friends, old and new, that I can ask for advice or critique. But in the end, I have to live with it.

3. I learned that by just reaching out a little bit online, there are some great friends to meet and enjoy this process with. Old friends and new friends have made it an enjoyable year.  Thanks again- you are great.

4. I learned through and indepth “Artprize” experience(visited many times…) that I can find something to like in all different forms of art. Meeting Nellie was loads of fun, too. I have much to learn about art and art history.


5. I lack focus. I just get so excited about the possibilities that I need to just concentrate on the here and now. Making a list helps. I did it all the time when I worked as a physical therapist and do it now as a mom. So why would I function differently here?

6. I need to have a reliable and dependable machine. Not one that will just handle piecing but one that can repeatedly handle  machine quilting. I  am just going to keep trading then in until I find one that works as well as my first machine did 20 years ago. The feeling that me and my machine are one make it  all worth it when I am doing a big piece.

7. And the biggest thing I learned- being a studio artist takes time and patience. You have to go through the steps. You can’t just barge over top of them. You have to do the work.  And then do more work.  And then do it again. I only have a glimpse of what this takes.

                                                   Japanese fabrics

     I have made some workshop plans. No I am not going back to school. For today, I am going to do some machine quilting and try to finish up one of my pieces that I couldn’t do last week. And make some dyes up for the snow we are supposed to get tomorrow. Snow dyeing!

     Thanks for listening. Be creative, my friends!