This past weekend I had the pleasure of leading this wonderful group of 11 women in creating their collage spirit guides and guardian angels. To start I lead them in a short meditation to find 3 words to guide their art. From there they chose a face or animal and began a 2 day process of creating their spirit guide. I am always amazed and humbled by creative spirit that is revealed by a weekend like this and want to share that with you. This is a workshop I love to teach and look forward to watching the process of each “icon” coming into being and I learn something every time from students and am grateful for the opportunity to help them bring their ideas to life. What follows is a group photo and then a few of the 11 Spirit Guides made this weekend – Above is the demo piece I made to show the techniques.
For my long-time followers, you know birds pop up in my work often. They are most definitely my muses. I love to observe them, to witness each species characteristics and culture, their distinct forms, figure, flight pattern and personality traits. A Scrub Jay is different in personality and energy than a Blue Bird. Chickadees run together in a tight flock, and Ravens pair off with a partner for life. Each one unique and wonderous. Here I have been charmed by the most common of birds, the American Robins. I always admire their upright stature, sleek feathers and of course their red russet chest that seems to say “here I am, look at me”. They spend time both on the ground hopping and browsing and in the trees chatting and communing (here is a link to hear their song and calls).
The thing is, for me to observe their busy-ness, I have to stop and be still. To hear their call and song I have to be quiet. To create these little odes to the American Robin I have to stop and consider them carefully to be quiet with them, to spend time creating this space for them in the form of a fabric collage. So, thank you robin, wren and bluebird; thank you raven, flicker and sparrow, you remind me to be still to be in your time not my time and you animate my creative verve.
I have developed this into a mixed media retreat so you fabric artist and quilters out there please invite me to your quilt guild to lead a workshop on making your own bird box fabric collage contact me through my website at lisathorpe.com
To see more in the Bird Box series see past post about Wrens.
For those of you who have followed for a while you know that I’m am a wandering artist. Trying this technique and then that teaching what I learn along the way. Sometimes I lament that I’m not a Monet type, you know, painting my metaphorical lily pond every day. But I’m really more of a Picasso (not the boorish, misogynist part), just when my audience knows what they like about my work I change it. Lately I’ve been doing more stitch in my mixed media work, you’ve seen that in my most recent posts. When I first started art quilting, I was all about the machine stitch…. don’t slow me down just get it done. But increasingly I’ve been drawn back to hand stitch. A participant in a workshop gave me some feedback that having a hand stitch option for a workshop would be attractive to some people, so I set about making some examples to satisfy that request. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would be also attractive to me, that in sitting down with needle and thread in a comfy chair with a podcast or music or friends that I would find a quiet beauty in the doing. Something different than the feeling of accomplishment at finishing quickly…. sometimes in my life I have measured my success by how quickly and efficiently I could complete a piece of work or art to my satisfaction. The act of slow stitching does not check off that box. I let my stitches be improvisational and move where they want to go, sometimes sparse and sometimes dense, complicated or simple; each section of the piece tells me what it needs. Adding this leisure and slowness to my work has added a richness, a texture and a fullness that was not achieved by the machine and by speed. The hand at work is evident, the art was clearly held, nurtured into existence.
I hope you can find your leisure in the doing. Perhaps its baking something special to bring to a friend’s house or maybe taking time to prune the roses in your yard of faded blooms, maybe even slowing down your power walk to hear the birds and watch the breeze sway in the trees.
Whatever it is be well, take care.
PS. I’m teaching a workshop about this Fabric Cut out technique in October – contact me if you want more information.
I’m on a bit of a new journey professionally. In the last year or so I have become more connected with the quilt guild world. They are an organized bunch and set aside time and money for speakers and teachers. Now I’m doing a bit of travel in Northern California mostly, to share my talents and hopefully inspire others to try new things in fabric and surface design. I have two lecture/trunk shows that I do; one is a surface design for fabric artists overview and the other is a deeper dive into designing your own fabric using photos taken with a smart phone. I’ll be sharing these techniques in Fort Bragg with the Ocean Wave Quilters and I felt like I needed another example for them to touch and see. To that end I started wandering around The grounds of The Bishop’s Ranch looking for inspiration (if you have been here you know that’s not hard to find). The lushness of the saucer-sized nasturtium leaves grabbed my attention first and and snapped a few close up photos. Then the bright and happy calendula flower beckoned next. The green and yellow orange spoke to me of bursting new life and an idea began to form. How about a mandala of spring life? The butterfly that had been fluttering around the edges confirmed my suspicion that I was on the right track and asked to be included in my design. I took my photos home played with them a bit in a few of my favorite photo manipulation apps then printed my designs right on my home printer within minutes I had my own fabric to begin designing my backyard mandala. Thankfully my son has a math brain and with a bit of calculating he easily helped me figure out the angle I needed to create an octagon. A lot of machine stitching later and some sore fingers from embroidery stitching through lots of layers I finished my ode to spring.
Take a moment today to acknowledge the wonder of nature around you, Find some way to let it influence your day and allow creation to sing it’s sweet song in your ear.
I have creative mixed media classes coming to spark your artistic fire and fuel new ways to make and create go to my website to see more.
I’m teaching a two-day Encaustic Collage workshop this weekend at The Bishop’s Ranch where I am the Resident Artist. This class is one I’ve taught many times, so I have a good idea of how to organize the space and materials for success. One thing that I think makes everybody happy is to have things arranged and ready to get creative. While the creative process itself can sometimes feel magical and loose, for me at least, the magic comes from having everything in order, so my mind is free to be inspired. I try hard to give that balance to my students too, I want everything to be at their fingertips with stimulating materials and careful demos to guide them to finding their genuine, creative voice in a new medium. Wish me and my 12 art adventurers luck!
In the busy mix of the weekend I’ll try to take some action shots of my students at work to share at the end of the weekend. Hope you make some time for your creative self too!