adjective: scrappy – consisting of disorganized, untidy, or incomplete parts. Synonyms – feisty, tenacious, determined, persistent
This week I sat in with one of the many quilting groups that sets up shop at the Ranch. This group calls themselves “Ranch Hands” – they are an eclectic bunch of traditional, modern, and everything in between, quilters. Usually when I join in I’ll have a project I want to finish or a particular goal in mind but this week I didn’t have time or inclination to figure anything out so I just brought my sewing machine and some thread and decided to make something from the scrap table. For the non-quilters out there – quilters love their fabric, they buy it, store it, save it, use it then there is always some left over. Generally, not being a wasteful bunch, they don’t want to throw out their beautiful scraps, so they bring left over fabric in all sizes and place on the give away table. So the scrap table was my inspiration. Someone had brought an array of plaids. None of the swaths of plaid where larger than about 12 inches square– but there where a lot to choose from so I got busy picking my colors. In the mix there were just a few reds so that became the middle of my wonky, scrappy, blocks. I created 5 improvisational log cabin blocks using yellows and golds, and 5 more using greens all with a red square in the center. Once I had them all laid out I thought I should break from the plaid grid of the whole thing and put in some improvisational curves. The result was 10 squares part gold part green. Now a purpose emerged – I would put these all together in a long autumnal table runner. Going back the the scrap table I found strips of green with a circle print and they were already cut 3 inches wide! Onward I went backing, quilting and binding all from the bounty of the scrap table. My scrappy improv quilt fits the definition above: a bit disorganized and untidy but also wonderfully feisty and determined to become something from nothing. It was a pleasure to step away from a plan and just let inspiration rule the day. A good reminder that sometimes not knowing what you’re doing can lead you down an interesting path.
I was asked the the Journey Center in Santa Rosa to create a art quilt addressing the upcoming one year anniversary of the Sonoma County fires. Lately I have been doing a lot of botanical printing on fabric so it seemed like a natural fit to use leaves as my central metaphor. For the piece I used leaves from trees native to the oak woodlands that burned and remain a scar on the physical and psychic landscape. My piece starts at the bottom in a gradation of color. Each row depicts another point in the fire and the aftermath. The bottom row shows the green leaves of Valley Oak, Black Walnut, and Bay Laurel engulfed in the red and orange of flames, the next row the leaves and surround are all flames each row a progression from leaf to flame to ash to leaf again. If nothing else the fire have taught us that nature is persistent she does not give up easily the green shoots and leaves push up through the charred earth, scorched black trunks put forth new shoots. The human spirit is equally on display – a will to rebuild with a new deeper knowledge of the importance of home and community.
My work and the work of many others will be on display at the Sonoma County Strong Quilt Show at the Journey Center1601 Fourth Street Santa Rosa, CA 95404. The opening is September 21st from 5:30-7:30 and the show runs til November 2nd.
I was talking to a dear friend this week who is on sabbatical for three months from her highly demanding work as an episcopal parish priest in a large parish on the east coast. When I asked her what she was doing on her sabbatical she said jokingly but somewhat wistfully said “waiting for a vision”. She is ready for a change but not sure what or how or where. I know that feeling. We’ve all had it and always the question is what is the right next thing? I’ll tell you honestly I have never had a vision, I have never been totally clear of my next step, I have never been 100% confident that the path I’m on is the right one and yet I continue to wander on. I guess I’m comforted by the fact that every time a wander down an unknown path there is always another fork along the way. That this path I’ve chosen today has side paths and loops and other meanders. That’s all to say I just keep walking, sometimes it feels like I’m totally in the dark but I keep walking – vision or no vision.
I know I’ve talked to you all before about my rejection therapy approach to career development but it’s worth repeating here. I set a goal to be rejected every day in big ways and small ways. Start with the small ways like in the grocery store parking lot instead of walking the cart to the rack ask the person who just drove up if they want it… that doesn’t seem like much because it isn’t the worst thing that happen if they say no thanks or look at me weird and I have to walk the cart to the rack. But that little rejection therapy session just got me ready to submit an article to magazine for publication I ask myself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” well the answer of course is nothing happens -literally nothing- they don’t publish my article and guess what if I don’t send in the article they can’t publish the thing I didn’t do…. you get the idea it’s a bit of a “just do it” mantra. No visions required – say yes to yourself even if you don’t know how it will work out. Wander down a path even if you can’t see around the next bend, there is something there – just keep moving!
Here are a few rejection therapy things that have I’ve got in the works: continued freelance writing for Quilting Arts and Cloth,Paper, Scissors Magazines. I have a wonderful 5 page spread in the latest issue of Quilting Arts and an another article coming out in the Fall. I’ll be teaching at Craft Napa again in 2019, I’m in conversation with the Quilting Company to develop an online series of courses for them. I’m opening a gallery with three other women in Sebastopol, teaching at quilt guilds and retreat centers on and on…. I just keep moving I’m looking forward to seeing what is around the next bend.
The birds are full of ideas. I watched pair of sparrows with straw in their beaks searching for a perfect nesting spot today. The bees as I walked down the wisteria laden arbor here at the Bishop’s Ranch are also full of ideas. Their busyness got me full of ideas as well. I’ve been admiring the Cala lilies along the Ranch house walk for a few weeks and realized I better get busy if I was going to catch them before they start to fad. So I snapped a bunch of pictures on my phone and wandered off wondering what next. So like the birds and the bees I got a creative idea too! I printed about 12 of my Cala lily photos onto printable cotton and with a bit of inspiration from the early photo collage work of David Hockney got to work on this fabric collage of Cala Lilies at The Bishop’s Ranch (if you look closely you can see the Chapel of St. George in the back).
Don’t delay follow those creative ideas buzzing around in your head let inspiration take over, you’ll be glad you let it rule the day!
I haven’t written in awhile… sorry….when I got fired from my teaching job in late March I imagined so much time and space to make art and blog with you and meditate and ponder the meaning of life. But as Aristotle said, horror vacui, or nature abhors a vacuum, and while I was worrying about how to make money when my job ended I caste a fist full of seeds into the universe. Well I guess a lot of those seeds found fertile ground and now I need to consider thinning my crop down to the things I most want to do. I saw a Venn-diagram recently with 3 overlapping circles; one reads what you are passionate about the next reads what you are good at and the third reads what people will pay you for…..and where they all cross over is the sweet spot – where talent, passion and marketability meet. Simple enough in theory but harder to find on a day to day basis. When I finished teaching April 1st I felt like this was an opportunity- I was just given some space to find the sweet spot- but in my fear of no income I have been filling up my every minute taking on every job that comes my way. I have taken on more graphic design work, more work at The Bishop’s Ranch, more workshop teaching, more sewing jobs…. you get the idea. In some ways it feels good, I know I can make the money when I need to, but now I need to pull back and do that thinning of my possibilities garden I was talking about before and find the sweet spot in my personal Venn-diagram. This week I got a little clue about which way to wander. On Sunday I taught an Encaustic Collage Workshop for 12 wonderful women- they had a good day I had a good day and I felt financially well compensated. Also this week, kind of by accident, I sold 4 pieces of art- big pieces- and when told the prospective buyers the price no one flinched. So I think I’m beginning to zero in on my talent, my passion, and what people will pay for. So here’s to searching for the sweet spot and listening to what the universe is telling you!
As some of you remember I have been working on some aerial view art quilts. I’m using photo images taken from a plane to create iPad drawings then having those drawings printed large on fabric then quilting. (see these links to past posts Flying High & A Stitch’n Week). I have completed a couple more of these art quilts and I’m ready to share. I was pondering what to say this morning on a chilly early morning hike. As I wandered along the trail, in and out of trees and into clearings it struck me that these aerial views are of the same place I’m walking but seen from a different perspective. In that same vein I’ve been pondering my family relationships – specifically my relationship to my demi-adult son and my eighty-something parents. I am finding that navigating the parent/demi-adult relationship is harder than I was expecting. How to support him and love him but let him go and make mistakes and find his own way. So my experience as the parent of a young adult has made me reflect on my own young adulthood and my relationship to my parents. I have new empathy and insight into what I put them through, how I wrestled and struggled with my self-definition and sometimes let them in but often not. So in these landscapes I am experiencing and translating the same place that I have walked through and painted again and again but from a different point of view where I can experience it anew. As I climb higher, I can now see the river carving through the valley and the hills sculpted low against the mountain and the row of trees reaching up and out. This landscape is like my own life- carving, sculpting, reaching up and out; connecting to the journey but separate from my son’s journey and likewise connecting to but separate from my parents’ journey. Here I am like a hawk on the wing, riding air current of my life in this unique space between beginning and end seeing each from a new point of view and grateful to catch a glimpse now and then of where I’m going and where I’ve been.
I have a couple more quilts ready I’ll show you soon in another post.