Sunday, September 24, 2017

Never A Dull Moment

Writer's block is something I have heard about but never had it happen to me. I think it is because I am forever thinking and coming up with new ideas. There is never enough time to write it all down. Now that I am quilting it is even worse. I am always working on something new and longing for more time to finish.

Some days I envy people who can work on one thing at a time and never stray away. I confess that I have tried that a couple of times myself. I was not successful with it because while I was working on one thing another piece of fabric was calling to me from the rack.

I love it when people ask me, "Soooo what are you working on?" I hesitate and take a deep breath. All kinds of projects run through my brain quickly and I figure out which one to say. Of course, I am always working on two or more things. Sometimes I have to put one up on the design wall and look at it for a long time, while I figure out either what to do next or what is not working. So while that was is hanging on the wall, I keep working on something else--glancing at the design wall every now and then.

Deadlines seem to be like little creatures chasing me through a forest thicket in the dead of night. I awake knowing what I want to work on and then I realize that the quilt on the design wall is due by the end of next week. So I switch my thinking around and get to work on the deadline piece while pushing the other one aside. Booooo.....

So now I am working on yet another new quilt. The idea for this quilt came to my mind but it was only an idea. I had not designed it or anything. Then last week I found out that it was due by Friday.I shifted into overdrive. Once I got the idea together I got stuck trying to figure out the background. Now you know how I feel about showing my work in progress. I know that I am always going to change something and I am not sure you will understand that. Here goes nothing. It started like this. 

I saw this wonderful faux leather fabric the other day and knew right away that I wanted to use it to make the shoes. I have also been looking at this fabric with the musical notes on it for a long time. This was going to be a great opportunity to use it. It is going to be nothing short of a miracle if I can finish this thing by Friday.

While I was working on this my mind kept slipping to some black and white fabric that I bought at Mary Jo's last year. I have been trying to ignore it because I know that I have other deadlines. Finally I gave in a little and made a background hoping that it will leave me alone long enough to finish Friday's project.

I think that appeased the idea for a minute. However, I woke up this morning thinking about it again. Now it is a fight with what I want to do and what I have to do. I am sure what I have to do will win this one. Sorry lovely black and white idea.

Moving right along with the Friday idea. Just the right fabric was in my stash for the jacket. I can't wait to get back to it today. If I can make the head in two days then I may make it. 

But wait- I still have to go grocery shopping, attend the family reunion, cook a lot of food so we can eat at the reunion and clean for a big event at my house, not to mention keep my grandchildren in the middle of any or all of that. Well anyway, I have the body/suit almost finished. There is never a dull moment around here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Inspired by Her

I have been exploring what inspires me and I found women to be the number one inspiration. I look at the work I have done and I always  feel like it is overwhelmingly feminine. I find myself saying that I need to do some men to balance out what I have. One day I was watching this video of Bisa Butler talking about why she is drawn to work with men images.  As I listened to her, I realized that I am drawn to work with women.

Why? The first thought I had was because my mother died when I was young and I was internally seeking to fill that void. I think that is true. The second thought I had was that so many really great women have been in my life and influenced my thoughts and actions. That is very true as well. Lastly, I thought that women are the largest subject of my work because I can relate so wholeheartedly to their pain. And that is the biggest reason of all that I am inspired to create work that gives women a voice that I think we so desperately need.

We seemed to be hard wired to fall down and get back up, while making very little fuss about it. I remember hearing someone say about Mammograms that if men had to suffer something as uncomfortable as that - another method would be quickly devised. Then I heard much talk circulating about how uncomfortable a prostate exam was. I stress WAS. Now men can get a prostate check through a simple blood test. No more probing. Wow, we are still being pressed into a flat iron without the heat.

I explored some of that inspiration in the book "Inspired by Her". I talk about many of the great women who inspired my life from my friends mothers, my sisters, my teachers and my cousins. I realized that their stories and my stories merged. I have felt their pain along with my own. I have felt their complexity along with my own. I have rejoiced and cried along side so many of them. 

Janice Liddell wrote a beautiful play called "Who Will Cry For Lena." When I saw that play I realized that it is so important that we tell our stories. No one can do it for us and we are the best ones to do it. Our stories are important. If we don't tell our stories the younger generations will think that what they are experiencing is new and special to them and their circumstances. They will wrongly think that they are the only ones that have ever gone through what they are going through. They will think that there are no answers for us. We have not been taught to share our stories but that has to change. Otherwise others will think that nothing can change and it can. That change starts with us, speaking up telling our stories whether it be in prose, short stories, plays, novels and of course pictorial art.

I first started with my hat ladies. It must have been because those were some of my earliest memories of strong women in the church. Women who dressed so lovely and wore awesome hats that I looked up at as a young child. 

Then I think I wanted to show that we rejoice. We really know how to rejoice. We dance, we celebrate and we leave our pain on earth sometime and fly above it all. So I did a lot of dancing work.


That brought me to the next book "The Women Who Fly" which gave me the chance to talk seriously about some of our falling down and getting back up. I encourage women to first acknowledge that your story is important, to you, to me, to young women, to men and believe it or not to the world.


Let's tell those stories ladies!!!! Let's inspire each other!!!! Let's hold each other close!!!!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Inspiration Everywhere 2

It has been a week and I have done nothing but watched myself. I felt like I was standing outside my own head trying to figure out what was inspiring me. Some years ago, I heard someone (I want to say it was Isaac Hayes but not sure anymore) say that whatever your work is -you should be an expert in that. You should study and learn as much as you can about what you are doing.

So I since I was quilting, I jumped in. I figured I was least adept at color therapy. I studied what I could find on color therapy and realized again that it lacked something for me. I studied the differences in how cultures used colors. That is when I found my true color inspiration. Don'ts get me wrong, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Some of the basic information about color is helpful; like which colors work well with other colors etc...  I found a feeling in colors that with the right placement made it feel like music. It was like a syncopated beat that repeated itself in my design. I moved away from the quiet soft spoken quilts that played classical music in the symphony halls. I wanted color to dance the Fanga and Yabara dances in my quilts. I wanted the drum to carry the bottom heartbeat of the rhythm with indigo and navy blue. When I wanted them to spring into movement I added bright yellows, golds and especially orange. Color plays an important part of my inspiration process. 

Then shapes. The realization of how shapes effect us goes into my process as well. It is not something that I think through but when I put it up on the design board and walk away, it hits me. I say to myself, maybe a few circles will lighten the feeling or more bold lines will stabilize this picture. Not to mention the triangles, squares, and so on.

I don't want to say that I watch everything but I do. I watch people (all ages). I watch cars, nature, fashions, shoes, food, sports, hair styles, musicians, musical instruments, door knobs, art in public places, how the furniture is laid out in a room, tea cup or mug, everything. The trick to watching everything is to not look crazy doing it. Ha ha ha ha. Look and then look away. Get real quiet so people don't realizing you are studying things.

And most of all give credit to your own experiences and make beautiful pictures of your friends. Like I do. It may seem like I am all over the place but really I am enjoying doing the pictures I want to do and making my own statement.