Saturday, January 24, 2015


Every once in a while I get hold of a book or an interview where the author or person is saying EXACTLY what, either I have been saying over the years, or would love to say.

The Art of Mistakes, by Melanie Rothschild has written one of these.

Here is a link to an interview with the author Melanie Rothschild with her Editor. 

While doing some banking business the other day I chatted with a young man who told me that he has absolutely no artistic talent. He majored in the sciences and remembers very little from early education art classes except that he never seemed to do well in them.

In her introduction, Melanie tells a story about a mother that came up to her at a show and asked her if she could recommend a teacher and some art classes for her young daughter.

Apparently, the child had taken an art class only to have the teacher begin with telling her that her drawing of a pink frog was not acceptable.

The child had a vision of what she wanted to do but was confused as to why she had to change it to the teacher's expectations.

As Melanie says in her Introduction to the book, "the chilling part for  me wasn't really about this little girl; she was lucky to have a mother with enough clarity of thought to see the potential damage that lay ahead and to take pains to redirect her child from this "spiritually toxic" situation."

Boy, I like that term, "spiritually toxic".  It says it all in my mind. 

Melanie further points out that although there is a lot to be learned from taking art classes, some wonderful SKILLS that artists will need down the road. The main thing that is "right in the center of the artist's essential tool kit is one tool that is easily forgotten in the dedication to attain perfection: becoming adept with the ecstasy of creating unruliness and understanding the profundity of that knack."

She describes this as "the sweet spot- the intersection of art, imagination, new ideas and progress."

Oh, it's so very true.

I would love to carry around with me a bag of art supplies and be able to make time stand still as I challenged the "I can't do art" sayers, to sit with me for a bit and create some art.

I would love to see the expressions on their faces change as they relax into the process, begin to lose focus of their environment and become one with their endeavor. 

I'm sure the judgement devil would land on their shoulders when we were finished to pass the final word on their creation. It seems to be internalized into a belief system that has shut down their creativity for years and possibly their entire life.

I also know that with time and encouragement and the right environment this could be changed. And, what a surprise for that individual when they discover that being creative doesn't just mean they can draw but that they can problem solve, they can create a change and maybe they can experience a moment or two of pure bliss and joy.

Melanie has written a great art inspiration book. You won't find this a step-by-step method but rather a "how to guide for creative thinking".  

If you have a friend or family member that feels they missed the creativity bus or train this might be a great book for them. Just don't hand it over and walk away.  Bring your crayons and markers and roll of sketch paper and sit down with them. Have some fun with them rediscovering their "child" within.  Leave the crayons, markers, paper and book with them and then send them healing thoughts that they will once again remember that they too can draw pink frogs and they will be beautiful.


Friday, January 23, 2015


I was driving down one of my favorite roads near my house when like a cartoon character I put on my brakes and backed up the car.

When did this go up?

Why did this go up?


This is one butt ugly, mean, nasty, IN YOUR FACE fences. 

What did these people do that their neighbor felt the need to slap up this fence between their properties over the weekend. Did they really find the Christmas decorations that offensive?
It looks like a nice house. I don't see old rusted cars and junk piled up anywhere. I see a neat yard and a well kept house.

I am just dumbfounded that the people on the right side of the fence found it necessary to put one up and not just any fence but a "I can't see you anymore, I don't want to see you anymore and now you can look at this ugly looking thing for the rest of your days in that house" kind of fence.

This is not a fence put up to keep small children and animals where they belong.  This fence runs just in a straight line between the properties and then ends.
There are no corners.  This doesn't extend beyond this one side.

This seems to be an angry fence, a mean fence, an in your face fence. I have to say I am shocked.

I live in what is still referred to as the country. Proprieties have a good amount of acreage around them. If you see your neighbor it's to wave hello as you drive by them getting their mail out of their mailbox. 

Property lines are pretty clearly marked with large metal posts that are not that easy to remove from the ground. Older homes with what you might think are bachelor farmers and collections of old farm parts, rusted out pickup trucks and assorted sheds are hidden from view by thick stands of trees and brush.

I can't for the life of me think of what the owners of the house on the left must have done to enrage the owners on the house on the right. 

Now, when I drive down this beautiful road I find myself glancing over to that fence every time. I've decided that it is so painful to look at that it needs a little loving energy sent to it. So, I've made it my mission to slow down and if there isn't any traffic to actually stop my car and send some healing thoughts and energy to the areas surrounding that fence and the homes. 

Maybe one day that fence will come down. Maybe if there is still a need for a fence a more more pleasant, friendly looking one will be built.

I can't solve the problem but perhaps I can provide a more positive space for healing to occur.


An Open Letter to the Decemberists from Sam Hunter

An Open Letter to the Decemberists – Quilts and their makers have value

Hey Decemberists! I see you have a shiny new album, with a really cool cover (that I read was designed by Carson Ellis, your frontman’s talented wife):
Image credit to The Decemberist’s website at
And clever you, you’ve decided to raffle off a couple of quilts made to look like the cover:
Image from The Decemberist’s Blog at
Who wouldn’t want such a pretty quilt? I wonder who made it? I can’t find that information anywhere. All I could find (before the entries closed) is the estimated value, a ridiculously low $388.
I’m guessing that, perhaps, (hopefully?) none of you have ever made a quilt, because if you had, you’d know better. So, as a member of the quilting community, and one willing to publicly bear the torch for us being treated well, I have a few things to say to you:
The art of a quilt isn’t just in the materials, any more than your music is in the plastic of a CD and its case. The art is in the intellectual property, and the skill to render it into form. The hard work it took to learn how to do it right is a huge factor. Just as you didn’t get good at your art overnight, neither do most quilt artists. It takes practiced skill to know how to build a set of triangles into something pretty, just like the skill it takes to arrange a set of chords to make beautiful music. How would you feel if we raffled off your music for the value of the plastic, without saying who played on the album?
As artists who’ve “made it,” you have a certain amount of power. You’ve done well. You’ve made it through an incredibly tough gauntlet of toiling in dodgy dives for a few bucks and cheap beer. You’ve got fans, enough visibility to get a day named after you in Portland, and a record company to help distribute your music. You’ve got a pulpit. Now use the power of that pulpit to help other artists.
Tell us who made the quilts. Link them up so they can maybe get some business out of it. Pay them properly (because I know you know the lie in being asked to do your art for “exposure”). And get those quilts properly appraised so that you don’t perpetuate the idea that we like sewing for cheap. Because we don’t – we are worth SO much more.
I know that most people think quilt makers are a bunch of older ladies with nothing else to do, but I’m here to set that story straight. Many of us make our livings in the $3.7B industry that is quilting. Yes, the B stands for BILLION. It’s a huge deal, even if it isn’t visible to you, so let me run down some sewing economics for you:
First up – there’s the talent. We quilt makers often spend years honing our craft. Sort of like musicians do. It takes a lot of practice to get good at sewing. And lest you think “anyone can sew”, how would you feel if I said anyone can strum a few chords and yell into a microphone?
The equipment is expensive too, not unlike the cost of guitars or drums. Yes, you can get a cheap machine, but they work like a cheap knock-off guitar sounds – like crap. And there are all sorts of things you need to have to keep them running. Like spare parts and good techs to do the tweaking.
Then there’s the cost of materials. I can’t find any details about the size of the quilts you’ve offered, but let’s go with an educated guess of 40” x 60”. I see at least 20 fabrics in there, and assume the minimum purchase for the top alone was about 6 yards. Premium fabric is running around $13 a yard, and you’d need about 3 yards to finish the backing and binding. So 9 yards at $13 is $117. Plus batting (let’s call it $20). And threads ($10 for the good stuff). So we’re at a conservative $147 before we talk about labor.
At $388 less materials, we have $241 with which to pay the artist. I’d bid 6 hours to work out the design, and around 15 for putting the top together, assuming nothing goes horrendously wrong. And for the record, I sew FAST (a skill that has taken 25 years to develop), and on an expensive, fast machine. It would take a couple of hours to put together a back and turn it into a quilt sandwich. It takes 2 hours for a quick and dirty quilting job, 10 for something custom and amazing. Another hour to make a binding, and three more to get it on with a hand finish (which is how many of us do it). At the low end, we’re talking 27 hours. $241 divided by 27 puts the labor at less than $9 an hour.
Do I have to point out that $9 and hour is an insult to ANY skilled artist? That my mechanic charges $99 an hour? That my friend just gave a plumber $13,000 for about 4 days of work? That $9 an hour, if you’re lucky, gets you “do you want fries with that?” and an order that isn’t screwed up?
Those quilts are worth far more than $388. And our industry cares about crediting who makes things (after being invisible behind centuries of anonymously made quilts, we’re kind of rabid about knowing who the makers are). So from one group of artists to another… give us a hand, OK?
Cheers ~ Sam Hunter
 I've copied this from Facebook and printed it here, in my blog, because it says it all. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Having some fun with abstract art.

For the month of January, 3150 Studio Artists have been doing some exercises and techniques to help in our study of Abstract Art. 
We have worked on Contour Drawing of 3 different compositions, drawing the first one quickly, the second one slowly and the third using squares for the shapes. And, all the time making sure that we were concentrating on keeping our eyes on the composition and not our drawing pads.

We have done some Automatic Drawing which could be said is much like a scribble drawing. We started out with large sheets of drawing paper taped to the worktable. With our large marker in our dominant hand, eyes closed we made large sweeping motions with our arms, moving our bodies as we just allowed our inner child to play. This was a timed exercise, less than a minute. Then we used a smaller tip marker in our non dominate hand, closed our eyes and made short, quick drawing movements on the paper. Again, less than a minute and as usual not one of the drawings by the different artists looked anything alike.
We looked for shapes, Did we draw any similar shapes in different sizes? After turning our drawings around most of us began to see something emerge from this mass of lines. Here my bug-eyed lady said hello.
Donna, Riley and I did this on Monday. It really is the most relaxing, enjoyable warm up exercise.
Riley thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with us. She took doing the exercise very seriously. Hey, what's not to love when you get to use markers and poster paint?
I don't have a picture of Donna's but after two hours of coloring in her drawing she discovered a beautiful head and wing of a peacock.
I found these three friends in mine. 
I found the exercise relaxing and freed my mind up to wander through other creative ideas and problem solve a current piece I am working on.

These two developed from a scribble challenge I gave myself to just draw rectangles and the landscape challenge was just using short and long lines.

It's all good. It just gets you back into a no pressure zone to play. 

I hope you get to play today. Do something creative.

Monday, January 19, 2015


It's really how you look at things, you know. I remember hearing a story about a workshop participant that cried because what she drew didn't look anything like anybody's elses work, in the group.
She said, through her sobs, that she was trying to draw the way they were but she just didn't see what they were seeing.
The friend that was sharing that story felt that perhaps she was being a tiny, just a tiny little bit of a drama queen. 

I suspect that she really didn't interpret things the same way in her mind. If people have trouble reading because letters aren't in the right places, I can easily imagine that other shapes or lines can get distorted.

I have to say I love my photo editing element on my laptop. There are some pictures that look great in color, you actually need the color.  And, others that look much better in black and white. Some need to be cropped. Ok, perhaps not as much as I do but I really like to have a picture that makes people pause for a second and wonder what the heck it is. 

My oldest son tells me that when he left out a Textures Photo Book that I had self published, on his coffee table, that guests tried to guess what the picture was. Job done!

So, these are my entries for my self imposed, answer to Donna's Sketch a Day challenge.
Perhaps only one will leave you scratching your head.
Enjoy your day and hopefully do something creative today.  Remember it's good for your health.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Belated Black & White Monday

Taking black & white pictures in January in Wisconsin is really hardly a challenge. I did like the contrasts going on in this farm shot.  I thought I would just blur the edges a little.

I've stopped a couple of times by this old tree stump. This time I decided to actually get out of the car and take a picture from a different angle. I just love the texture you can see on what is left of the tree.
What can I say, there was this cool adjustment in my photo editing program so I just tweaked it a bit. 
I'm calling it my "what if" moment.

I guess I'm lucky. I don't have to look to far to take a picture of things that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Love trees, winter trees, dead trees, old trees, field patterns, textures and barns.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Snow, snow glorious snow, nothing quite like it but...................

It's a beautiful bright, sunny, cold day. We've had about four inches of snow to clean up our world. Makes for some great shadows so I'm off with my camera before the art ladies come to the workshop.
I leave you with this beautiful peony from my garden, this summer. 
Have a creative day, remember your soul needs it!