Category Archives: Uncategorized

Residency at Vermont Studio Center


Vermont Studio Center
Red Mill Dining

 I am just returning after a two week residency at the Vermont Studio Center. And I am now officially in residency program withdrawal. I was warned it would happen by others who have attended residencies but I didn’t believe it. It is kind of like working extremely hard on a project and, then, it is over with. But that is minimizing the feelings of coming down from a residency.

You just plain and simply miss the energy and adrenaline associated with it, the new friends you have met and spent an emotional art filled time with and the art you were inspired and free to make.

For 2 weeks, this room became my shelter and friend.  It was a nice quiet blank space to be in. No cell phone noise was allowed within the studios nor any music played without headphones on. I could read, write, experiment and have no specific agenda other than creating.

Wolf Kahn Studio

Houdini the studio cat

Even had his own crosswalk sign

I panicked a bit when my first few experiments did not work out as planned. But they were just that-experiments. And I am happy I finally had time to work on them and learn from them.

 I had the luxury of 3 meals per day prepared for me and ate my meals in the Red Dining Hall with 50 other artists, writers and visual artists. I came in at the three week mark as many artists were attending for a month long residency.  Their excitement and enthusiasm were felt the moment I sat down in the dining room. I wanted what they already had! They were off and running with their ideas and art.  I settled in and fed off their energy in a very positive way.


Dining Hall

   The nights were filled with activities- lectures from visiting artists, studio visits from those artists, presentations from attendees and readings from the writers. My eyes were wide open at the talent level I was exposed to and how hard each of the artists were working.  Late night hours were very common. During the day you had access to yoga, a meditation studio or life drawing classes. The town was quintessential Vermont and had a coffee shop, market, pizza place, bookstore , and Johnson Woolen Mills if you needed a break.

Studio Store

       Each day I was there, I fell more in love with this magical place.  Because each day I was afforded the time to make art without interruption. Yes, the art making was the reason I was there.  Most importantly, I learned more and more about myself as an artist and my process- how I stop myself from making intuitive decisions, how I second guess myself and how impatient I am with my process . And how I need to claim and own textiles as my art medium and easily explain it to others.

Kowalsky House lodging

You want to see the art I made. You will as I gradually start to complete it. I will show some of it to you. The rest were experiments that I can now let go of. I will tell you about that as well.

It was a very positive experience that I am just beginning to process. We drove back to Michigan yesterday-13 long hours.  But my seat was back in my studio today again. Because that’s what you do when you are an artist. You get back to work quickly. And I love being an artist.

Thank you Vermont Studio Center for this treasured gift. You are a true gem. I will dream of and aspire to returning. 

Red Mill
waterfall included




Hiding Out


Museum Display at Tuch and Technik Museum, Neumunster, Germany

Museum Display at Tuch and Technik Museum, Neumunster, Germany

I really have been hiding out. If I pop up out of my safe little hiding hole,  then I might not believe it. This year is a very , very good art year. And it’s just  mid- May. But it is the result of few very intense years of work. I have so used my blog as a journal that I sadly regret not keeping up.

Lots of exhibits for 2016 are in process. I will do a quick re-cap so I can catch up

1. Color Improvisations 2 curated by Nancy Crow, opened in Germany at the Tuch and Textile  Museum. My piece, Time Fragments #2 , was chosen for this exhibit. Marc and I traveled there for the opening. ( By the way if you go to Europe, go for more than 6 days.  Jet lag is a killer so once there you might as well enjoy the new time zone you are in and see the sights. Next time we will. ) It was such an honor to see all the large pieces and their proud artists . And catch up with all my friends.

Color Improvisations 2

Color Improvisations 2


Color Improvisations 2 Opening

Color Improvisations 2

Color Improvisations 2 will be in Neumunster, Germany until August 27, 2016. See the museum site for further details. Hopefully it will travel near and far over the next few years.

2. Fantastic Fibers
Time Fragments #6 was chosen for this exhibit in Paducah, KY at the Yeiser Art Center. This   exhibit will run through June 4th. Nice to have this piece be appreciated!


Time Fragments# 6 © ColleenKole 2015


3. Mastery: Sustaining Momentum 

This exhibit is an invitational curated by Nancy Crow at  the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio. It will open in May 27 from 5-7pm and run until November  2016. I will have 6 small works and 3 large piece exhibited. There will be a catalog available for pre-order May 1st on the Dairy Barn site. Follow the link in this post to purchase the catalog. More later on this exhibit as I can’t show you  my work yet.

4. Michigan Regional Exhibit  This is always a sweet honor to be included in this event.    Muskegon Museum of Art is a gem of a museum and has a extremely hard working staff,  high quality exhibits and an all around beautiful venue to have work exhibited in.
Don’t miss this exhibit.  Muskegon Museum of Art ,  May 12th-August 3, 2016.

Time Fragments, 67.5Hx71W , Textiles, ©ColleenKole2016

Time Fragments, 67.5Hx71W , Textiles, ©ColleenKole2016

SO many great exhibits out there right now for quilts. It is the time for ALL of us to shine and enjoy the hard work of our hands and hearts!!! Make plans to see them before they move on out of your area!









The Space In Between in Vermont


Snow finally in VT

Snow finally in VT

I love my Vermont week in between Christmas and New Year’s. For the past 12 years, we load our tired Christmas bodies, winter gear and all kinds of books and movies into the car and drive for 13 hours to our second home in VT. This happens the day after Christmas. As the kids have gotten older, it comes with lots of grumbling and complaining as to all that they are leaving behind and activities they are missing out on. Especially this year when the snow forecast was non-existent, the grumbling reached epic proportions.

I have to admit I was kind of apprehensive of what would happen without snow. I am the non-skier who stays nice and warm and sews. And sews. I typically bring the biggest bag of sewing projects and lots of books. They ski and I make dinner and sew all day while they ski. And I take long, thinking walks in the woods. It’s a win-win situation. What would they do without skiing? Selfishly, would I be able to sew?

But so far, they sleep in epic proportions and read by the fire. The days are broken up by playing games, reading and eating. No worries without snow. We are all relaxing. And I was able to sew. My sewing space is much simpler here and I really love that.  It has made it very clear I need to purge in my large sewing studio in Michigan!

My simple sewing space

My simple sewing space

After working on 2 exhibits for the past 2 years, I am loving this state of being-relaxed and planning for the next year. I forgot what it felt like.  It is pure bliss. I appreciate the week between the holidays with newfound appreciation. I will plan for next year. But not right now. I need to find my spot by the fire and my people in the week between.

Departure and Arrival



Sending this package out into the world really was nerve wracking.

It signifies the culmination of a long process which began back in February of 2014.  In February 2014, I was invited to submit work for an invitational curated by Nancy Crow. Without a second thought, I accepted and began a long quiet period of making 5 works 90x 90 inches maximum size. Of those pieces I submitted, I am very excited to announce that “Time Fragments #2 ” has been accepted into Color Improvisations 2 .


March 11-July 1, 2016 | Germany | exhibition
• March 11 | Opening of COLOR IMPROVISATIONS II
Exhibition curated by Nancy Crow
Tuch+Technik Textile Museum
Neumünster, Germany


I have never been more nervous to pack up a piece in a simple bag and box and sent it off to Germany last week. I didn’t realize how much I was holding my breath that it arrived safely. And not until I got the email today informing me that it did, did I relax and start to get excited.   I can’t show you any images yet until the show opening. But you will see it as I will share photos from the opening because my husband Marc and I are traveling to Germany to attend the opening.

Now you know why things have been kind of quiet around here. Whew!  It arrived safely.


Part 1: Mesmerized By Artprize 2015

(I wrote this post at the beginning of Artprize and didn’t publish it. Felt like it is worthy of a publish!)

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

Every year I doubt whether or not “this” year can compete with last year.

It starts and I still doubt.

But then on a beautiful fall night, I leave my Artprize venue and rush around to see what I can see in an hour.

Day crowds at DeVos

Day crowds at DeVos

And you know what? It doesn’t matter what I see or how much I see. I get tears in my eyes when I say this. But it’s not about my piece. It’s not about how my piece compares to others in the same genre of work. It’s not about what venue I got into. It’s not about good art versus bad art . It’s not about the prize or prize money.  It’s not about public versus juried art. Or how well respected the event is in the larger art world. No, not at all.


It’s all about the people craving the art experience.

DSC_0400 A huge community of people out enjoying and viewing art. Lots of art. And over the course of 3 weeks, they will keep coming back.










I am grateful that I have been mesmerized by people enjoying art in my wonderful city.

Artprize 2015 by Brian Kelly-I look for this every year as he has a pulse on the event.


An odd Thing

Thus the title -which isn’t capitalized correctly.

In case you might question this:

I make quilts.

Quiltmaking is my medium. It is art. I am not afraid to say that I believe it is art.

I love doing what I do. I am not sure I care that others may not appreciate nor like my form of art.

I may over think this. But I had 2 people ask this week what I did all the time.

I make quilts. All the time. I sleep and I dream art. I spend 50-60 hours per week making art.

Quilts are art.

Period. End of discussion. Sigh.



Winter Wanderlust #1: Costa Rica

I have never visited a warm climate in winter.  I remember my parents piling us into a station wagon as kids (without seat belts and all of us vying for a peek out the back windows) but it was so cold in Florida over Christmas break that my dad vowed never to do it again. And  now my  family always travel to VT to enjoy winter time activities. So when we had the opportunity to travel to a warm climate this winter,  I heartily agreed to go.

In February, we travelled to Costa Rica as my son was chosen to attend an Olympic Developmental camp as goalkeeper for his national region. How could I say no to that! He was busy training and Marc and I toured and explored when we weren’t watching the few games that he had. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

San Jose corner park

San Jose corner park


Doka Coffe plantation

Doka Coffe plantation



Coffee beans drying

Coffee beans drying


San Jose market

San Jose market


Abandoned hotel-love the architecture and color

Abandoned hotel-love the architecture and color



Hand painted ox cart

Hand painted ox cart



more color and architecture

more color and architecture



Volcano Paoz with fog

Volcano Paoz with fog



Paz waterfall -braved a high walkway to see it

Paz waterfall -braved a high walkway to see it



country side houses

country side houses



Carribbean beach day

Carribbean beach day



San Jose Art Museum pre-historic wing

San Jose Art Museum pre-historic wing



I got to visit this beautiful country all because of this boy whom I was very proud of:


My #1 goalie man Ben

My #1 goalie man Ben

I now understand the word wanderlust. The definition is a strong desire to travel.  I have it. I am craving seeing and doing new things.  I have felt it and I want to see more of the world.  It is really a cool place.





Around the World Blog Hop

What a nice way to finish up the year with an Around the World Blog Hop! I will jump right in and answer the questions for you.

What am I working on? 

Well,  December for me is traditionally a month for making gifts for others,  doing some charity quilts and finishing binding or sleeves . The holidays make things busy at our house so I use this time to clear up and clean up the studio to start fresh next year and jump back in to work right away on December 26th or 27th. I am working in a new series called “Time Fragments” which involves my hand dyed fabrics and line work. I can hardly wait to get back to it.

I am also working on machine quilting an improvisational sampler that I made for a class that will teach in January at a new sewing studio called Stitched Studios. I haven’t work with commercial prints in eons so this was a bit of a challenge for me. And I separated all the sections out with sashing so the students could see the different techniques.

improv sampler for a class

improv sampler for a class

DSC_8392 2

Improv class sampler, 72×72

Not at all what I am use to doing, but I am super excited to teach again. I feel a sense of responsibility to teach others this craft so they , hopefully, have a desire to create art of their own.

Why do I create what I do?

I love the feel of the fabric. I love the texture of the stitch on the fabric whether it be sewn by hand or machine. I love the definitive cut of my ruler to design. I even like the gratification of a frustrating piece that I seemingly unlock the puzzle of.  And the color -oh the applying of the color onto the fabric with dyes-it just really does it for me! I can’t stop and its a part of who I am -my hands, my heart and my discerning eye all coming together to create a quilt. Nothing better-other than my family, of course.


How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I make abstract improvisational quilts which you can see in my website gallery here.  I consider my work  part of the abstract improvisational genre of studio art quilts so my work has some of the same characteristics of those who have taught me. I am proud of that. But, at the same time, I am a “young” artist seeking my own voice amidst the crowds.   I have been quietly working away in silence the past year to have a strong and courageous voice that I can shout from any mountain top .  I think I may just have found “me” in this quiet phase of working silently – fine line work interspersed  with large shapes and bold colors. I am working in a new series called “Time Fragments” and I am wildly excited about it. For now, I am not doing much sharing of it but I will show you when I have lots of work finished .

How does my creative process work?

I usually start with a photograph or a simple sketch as an inspiration and pick a pallete of colors I would like to work with.



Then I free hand cut and sew what I call elements and make each piece as beautiful as I can.


I place a few elements on my design wall , move them around incessantly and obsessively until I have a broader vision of what the larger composition will be like .


And then lots of sewing occurs sewing even more elements together. I may have 2 or 3 pieces in process at one time. If I get stuck on one piece , then the other one is up in cue. There is always a piece in process. Finally, a new composition is made after many hours of design.

Rooflines #14  which needs facing yet

Rooflines #14 awaiting facing

To get all theses wonderful saturated colors, I dye my own fabrics.

Processing the fabric in the barn

Processing the fabric in the barn

I spend the summer hand dyeing my fabrics so I have a stockpile of fabrics to work with during the cold winter months. I absolutely love this part of the process. When the dye hits the fabric and you now have color- it just really jazzes me up to spend hours in the hot sun creating such beautiful color. Isn’t that how all people spend their summers?

Lighter neutrals on the line

Lighter neutrals on the line

The entire process of making a quilt in this improvisational manner has become a very cyclical and rewarding process for me.


How does this blog hop work?

I was recently tagged by Maria Shell.


Maria Shell

Maria and I initially met at the Crow Barn and have taken several classes there together. The last class involved lots of laughs at night and much hard work for 2 weeks. She did a fantastic job of sharing who she is as an artist and how she creates-prolifically and without any holds barred- Maria produces lots of beautiful art. Thank you Maria, my friend!

Now, I will tag 2 artists whose work I admire. And they will answer the same 4 questions and tag  a new artist or two for you to discover.

1.  Beth Berman : I have been following Beth Berman’s blog titled Sewsewart for many years. She is relentless and brave in trying new surface design techniques and is very generous in sharing her process. I can only imagine her fabric stash as each piece of fabric is really beautiful. I made a journal cover using her Best Ever book cover post here.


From Beth Berman's desk today

From Beth Berman’s desk today

tin book 17

From Beth Berman’s desk today


2. Barb Mortell : Barb and I also met at the Barn and she was my roommate for 2 weeks at the last Barn class. I have to admit I was worried about a roommate I have never met before. But I have found a lifelong friend in Barb.  Even though we live in different countries, we have kept in contact with each other and spurring the other on when the art gets hard.  Barb has a new love of making spoons which are very popular amongst the locals on Denman Island. Check her out at her blog House of Bug .

Barb Mortell's spoons

Barb Mortell’s spoons

Barb Mortell's piece titled Unruly

Barb Mortell’s piece titled Unruly

And they will answer the same 4 questions and tag a new artist or two for you to discover. If you trace backwards through this Hop, you really can learn about many artists, their processes and their art.


Out of My Box: Part One

I just returned from a four day sewing retreat with 34 women.  I had signed up for it just a short while ago when they had a spot open up thinking that November would be a great time to take a break from the studio and get out with the humans again. When Thursday rolled around and it was time to leave, I was really  nervous to go .

My husband asked me why and I casually replied they weren’t my peeps. I didn’t know one single person who was going. He looked at me like I was crazy.  I went anyway.  I was just plain curious to see why the “modern quilters” were having so much fun and what they were all about. I admit I knew several of them by stalking their blogs but had never even left a comment or interacted with any of them before. I liked what I saw on some of their blogs and wanted in on the buzz that surrounds modern quilting.

A few hours later I arrived at the destination, Camp Stitchalot at the Hankerd Inn.

Hankerd Inn

Hankerd Inn

I set up my table and I was wedged between Carolyn Friedlander and Sherri Lynne Woods who would be giving workshops throughout the weekend.  I thought I could remain mysterious and quietly sew and observe. No such luck given my location.


In fact I sewed right next to the lovely and sweet Carolyn. ( My mess to the left slowly evolving and Carolyn’s neatness obvious on the right. 🙂




Bags made for us!

Bags made for us! .

The weekend welcome included a bag made especially for each of the campers by the woman on my left who assembled 30 of these bags on Thursday. She was one speedy and industrious sewist!!!! To the left of the bag are little charm squares of Carolyn’s new fabric line “Doe ” which we received for her class on Friday. I fell in love with the mark making illustrations on these fabrics . Really in love with it and it comes out very soon.

More about Carolyn’s work and class tomorrow.



Fall Wrap Up


IMG_0065I have had way too much fun this fall with all things art and otherwise. As a result, I have been less than attentive to this blog as two people have recently reminded me.  I think it is just like anything else you procrastinate with: the longer you put it off, the harder it is to return to it.  So I will try again.

I kicked off the fall with an entry into Artprize 2014.  It is always a whirlwind of excitement, social events surrounding art and of course, the art viewing. The art viewing experience alone  takes up hours of walking amidst the crowds to a destination and then viewing a portion of the 1700 plus entries. This year was no exception.

I was a part of the Cathedral Square venue  which had a great selection of artists and proves to be a growing destination site. 18,000 people passed through the doors to see art from 56 artists.

Some highlights –


Elizabeth Brandt‘s piece

Elizabeth Brandt's entry titled" Random Thoughts"

Elizabeth Brandt’s entry titled” Random Thoughts”


Blair Reinckman

Blair Rieckmann's "The Shortest Route

Blair Rieckmann’s “The Shortest Route


My entry

Rooflines #15, Colleen Kole ©2014

Rooflines #15, Colleen Kole ©2014



Visitors viewing Elizabeth Brandt’s “Random Thoughts”


Kids education days which is my favorite part of the event.

Kids education days

Kids education days

I loved their silly questions. I loved their thought provoking questions . And I loved their open eyes and surprised look when I explained what I did. There is no better than than watching kids get excited about art. This is a significant perk for me in participating in Artprize.


Gail and Bill Baar came to spend a night and attend the artist opening at the DeVos Center. Gail had a primo spot there. I took them on a whirlwind 3 hour trip around and I exhausted all of us.

Gail Baar Colorforms

Gail Baar “Colorforms #55

It was great to catch up and we also snuck in a trip to Meijer Gardens before they left.

Gail and Bill at Meijer Gardens

Gail and Bill at Meijer Gardens

I was lucky enough to have an interview on a local radio station WGVSU and was fortunate to not say anything too silly. (Thanks Betsy for the opportunity!)  It was nerve racking but not as intimidating as I thought it would be. And then the icing on the cake was a photo in the Sunday paper of my little old piece that was a total surprise.


In late September, I fulfilled my last duty as member to the workshop committee for my local guild,  the West Michigan Quilt Guild.  I was classroom monitor for the first day of Jacquie Gehrig‘s workshop titled  ” Slice and Insert Improvisations”. She is a kind, energetic and a “meet you where you” are kind of instructor. She is very passionate about the Modern Quilt Guild and a great ambassador for it. It’s no wonder she received Professional Teacher of the Year for 2014.

Jacquie Gehrig  workshop

Jacquie Gehrig workshop

Jaquie Gehrig workshop

Jaquie Gehrig workshop

October was filled with family. I had a quick trip to visit my daughter Hope in Iowa for parents weekend. I am proud of how hard she is working to make her way in the competitive pre-vet world.



Lots of soccer games and my son Ben was named to the Olympic Development team which will mean trips to Sarasota, Phoenix and Costa Rica in the next 6 months.  Big news indeed but again he is such a hard working driven kid whose work is paying off.

Ben , my goalie man in mid-air

Ben , my goalie man in mid-air

We ended on a sad note with saying good bye to Grandpa and father-in-law Thurm . Death is always a lesson in appreciating the time we have today.  We will miss you Grandpa.

It has been marvelous fall filled with art, friends, family and the making of things.