Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Art of Selling Art

Yesterday, I attended a spectacular workshop with a successful art consultant and artist. This was not a quilt class... it was indeed about the art of selling all kinds of art. I want to digest the overwhelming volume of things I heard, but one thing I wanted to share is that the last thing someone who sells their work should do is reduce /slash prices in a downward economy. Things will eventually turnaround the consultant says and if you start to sell things at less than you used to, you will highly annoy the earlier buyers that paid full price. This makes absolute sense to me when I consider what we've heard about a highly commercialized painter (of light) that began bargain selling his work on a TV shopping network. I'm told Galleries had earlier buyers asking to return purchases so they could buy on-line instead. How very ugly that had to be.... and oddly, I haven't heard much about that painter lately. Hmmmmm. The old Golden Rule holds true!


I have finally got a long standing problem solved. I like to block my wall quilts pinned to a big board ironing board.., but the commercially made 'Big Board' while wonderful ( I own 2) is not BIG ENOUGH. When I learned ( in Yorba Linda, Ca) could custom make an ironing board 'pop'top that would actually fit my large wooden table... let's just say I was excited. So here's the 36" x 60" table calling for a ironing board top.
I gave Cathys hubby the exact measurements width, length, tabletop thickness, and I received back a drop over the top wood-base finished on the back with a clean white melmaline and covered in double layers of batting and a cotton cover. It's awesome. It can be moved off with minimal effort when/if the table calls for it's original configuration.
I am ofcourse now rearranging my entire studio to best make use of this new joy.

GREAT Get Together

The Wanabe Quilters Group met Friday and launched the new year. A couple people showed finished quilts or tops from last year or beyond. Hilary Field loves redwork and did a christmas red and white roundabout challenge last year. Hilary did the center redwork to get it started.. then one by one we each month added something else. Nice way to have your quilt top done at years end too.
Laurie Lyon finished a multi-year group rotation project of a gorgeous crazy quilt. It rested on the hostess piano during the meeting Friday.

It is gorgeous, indeed.
I might add, the luncheon was likewise spectacular thanks to the hostess Nancy Kaster..

Friday, January 29, 2010

Excited today!

It feels like I'm getting out of a quilting desert today when I will at 10am meet with my Wanabe Quilters Friendship Group and launch new shared projects for 2010. I get to hang out with a bunch of quilter chicks ... YEAH! We usually share info about the past holidays, etc.. basically a show and tell..... and then have a fabulous hosted lunch in the home of this month's member hostess Nancy Kastner. We get to be 'ladies!' One of my 'shows' is a framed photo of 2 year old grandson Max whose pre school class photo was taken in a classy tuxedo. He's a pretty handsome 'dude.' Aren't you amazed he stood still in a tux??? He's 2!'

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Student Feedback is powerful!

In my previous corporate life, one of my interests was in effecting continuos improvement in processes. That said, I like doing the same in teaching classes so when students give feedback of things they'd like or didn't like... I take note. Today I received my copy of anonymous student feedback sheets from Road to California Classes. I read every one so THANK YOU to all students mine or otherwise who take the time to provide honest feedback. It truly helps!

I feel TENSION!!!!

While I have worked really hard on my quilting skills... thread tension remains the greatest challenge. There doesn't seem to be any magic that I've found yet and I don't think I'm alone from judging comments I hear when hanging out helping in judging rooms. Tell me if you have magic cures. In the meantime... testing on quilting sandwiches is really important to set tension. Because I change top thread often, I tend to use monofilament in the bobbin. Yes, I know using the same thread top and bottom might be a good thing to do to minimize visual pop thru on the back.( I've actually noticed more art quilters doing just that).. but I'm not ready to give in to that as a well set tension with monofilament allows the quilt to be a bit softer/lighter. Here's what I do for now.
I first make a practice sandwich of the same materials I will use on my quilt. I load top and bobbin thread and stitch a little... then look at the back.

I'm purposely showing a bad start for learning purposes. I often ( as in this example) am using a 40 wt thread on top. With 40 wt thread, I'm always setting upper tension below the mid point on the upper tension dial. Mid point would usually pull the lightweight monofilament up above the top surface.., so the game is seeing where to set it below mid point.
In this first example... I set it at zero.. the lowest upper tension which you will see is TOO low.
Then look! This looks BADDDDD!
I then step up to 1 and repeat the sew and look process.
Closer but not quite!

Let's try 2!
This is a game replayed whenever a new thread manufacturer or top thread weight is loaded. This would also apply if you DO change bobbin thread. Remember,practice sandwiches are your friend!!!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Math hurts my head!

In case you thought you had all the fun, I spent today filing reports and payments for California Sales tax for all of 2009. It's all e-filed on line now and honestly it's not as bad as the old paper way, but all the prep. work is the same. Artists just don't like the numbers game. But IT'S DONE ...YEAH! Tomorrow will be new day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Schoolyard in Southern California

REALLY! Today my hubby and I went up to our little village on Mt. Baldy and were delighted to see school kids having snowball fights and just plain playing in the snow. This is a rare sight for Southern California generally known for sunny skies and palm trees. Our mountain home sits at 4500' elevation, about 500' higher than this schoolyard area. We had to park our SUV off the main road and hike in to our home in a 1 lane road canyon. IFFFF the sun stays out for another day or so, we can return home to stay. I love having sleeping quarters at my studio at the base of the mountain, but the novelty has worn off a bit having been there for a week or so, and ofcourse, whatever I needed was 'up the hill.'
It's my hubby's birthday party tonight. I have some 'errands' to do. Bye for now.

A new year, a new quilt beginning!

I know I am known as an art quilter, but I have learned sooooo much by tackling traditional quilt projects in my friendship groups. The 20 year together Wanabe Quilters meet this Friday and begin a 2010' monthly rotation of each others projects through the group. Each month we each do part of a project of another members chosen project. It is most often a standalone block or more, but often is bordering, sashing, etc etc. I can't emphasize enough how much this exchange idea has helped me grow as a quilter. I work hard at finishing my art quilts with the same care as do refined traditional quilters. It's essential if one wants to fair well in stiff competition. So this may crack you up, but this is my project this year.... having the border blocks made for this "Winter Wonderland" redwork pattern to be done in blue and white instead of red and white. I have always loved 2 color quilts. They are soooo fresh. It's why I have a Hawaiian quilt on my bed. Click on any photo for enlargement.
So I will present my project in an "Art Bin" plastic carrier complete with carrying handle. This is a tidy, compact way of transporting month to month.
The first thing I do each year is try out the pattern and make a few samples. As we all know, all patterns are not well organized /easy to follow, so making a few samples not only tests out the pattern but also creates a visual for introducing the project at our first meeting. I did find this particular pattern was dead on correct.
Now the important thing is organizing the materials to make it as easy as possible for the person picking up a project..... so fabrics are kitted in a way that follows the pattern. The different types of block instructions are separated into zip lock bags where finished blocks may be stored and 'checked off' as done. With so many different blocks as this and different sizes, who wants to waste time figuring out what needs to be done? I love this group. They are all such pros. I can't wait to see their projects too. Excitement builds as Friday approaches.

Now as to the center bluework embroidery... it's not in this project box this year. I thought I might try machine stitching a sample using a 12 wt. thread. Has anyone tried this??????? If I like it, I'll do all the center blocks. If not, it will likely be 'next years project' for rotation. By the way, our group rule is that if we have a busy month and can't get to the rotation project, there is NO guilt allowed. Just pass it on at the next meeting. That might not work for all groups, but does for this one as it is seldom exercised as a option. For those with hectic years ahead of them, they can bow out of that years rotation too. Real friends!!! It's great to be part of such a group.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I can't go home!!!

Wow...the fourth storm is passing through this area... heaviest rain AND now snow in a loooooooong time. Snow is down to 2000' on the mountains surrounding Mount Baldy ... I live at 4500' off in a canyon that is now undriveable but is hikeable (no thanks). I will wait a few days to approach home though low expected temperatures may well keep me off the mountain for longer. This photo is NOT of me...I'm no longer that adventurous... but it is Mt. Baldy, parts of which sit high above and is part of Los Angeles, Ca County. WHERE's my hot chocolate??? :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The "ART" of chocolate

Chocolate has long been the friend of quilters. This lovely sampler block of chocolate was a gift to faculty at the 'Road' show last week.
I waited as long as I could!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Super Student Closeups

Here are but a few of the student works at Road. Not all ink paintings are finished, though all look great. Here kitty, kitty!
Meet Clyde. Isn't he cool?
A native American dance photographed by the painter.
This piece is coming along beautifully. I'm such a lucky teacher to have so much talent/courage in the same room.
Take a bow!!!

A spectacular Puffin.
An orchid in progress.
A grandson's portrait.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At The End of the Road

WOW... 'Am I ever tired.... albeit a good tired. 5 classes, 20 people each class plus seeing many friends at the Road To California Show in Ontario California. Most noteable, the lady in the ribboned portrait stopped by too. Margie Torrence on the right ( the folk dancer of yore') and me on the left. How great it was to see Margie again.
Below.... the wall of pride.... students from my Painted Quilt Art class obliged my request to post and review their projects on the second day of class. So many great pieces.
The cameras were sure flashing. :-)

I hope to post a few closeups the next few days. Right now, I'm still unpacking from the week long show.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2 Big Wins at Road To Ca.

Yikes... I am thrilled to have just learned 2 of my pieces won significant awards at Road To California which previews tomorrow night.
WINTER HUNT - Best Pictorial Quilt
PROUD HERITAGE ( aka Bailerin Linda) - Best Painted Surface

I am teaching Thursday through Sunday in Room 100A. I hope to see some familiar faces this week. It looks like another great show.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's in the Travel Trunk

Okay, finally... "Seasonal Changes" is quilted and bound and placed in the trunk for the Noble Seasons traveling exhibit which premieres at Road To California later this week. Only today I learned my other traveling exhibit piece "Prayers For Our Children" for Robert Kaufman's "Solid Expressions" traveling exhibit ALSO premieres at Road To California. I have 3 other pieces in that show, plus a faculty exhibit...yikes... I could almost do a trunk show on the showroom floor.

For the season of summer... This all comes (in fun) out of my theory we all change very little over time. This one represents my hubby... in the summer of 1942, and well, last summer. :-)I think we just become more extreme versions of ourselves. Well, I hope you at least get a chuckle.

Prayers for Our Children
was an double experiment for me to see if
1) I could paint portraits in ink atop a yellow solid. It worked!!!
2) I could use quilting alone to express the complicated world our children are inheriting. I think it worked, but you decide for yourself. Click on photo for detail view.
I'm volunteering in the judging room for one more day.. tho I must step outside when my categories come up for judging. I'll know the outcome tomorrow night but I must say there are some knock your socks off quilts in this show. Impressive. So many people are soooo talented.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I love the finishing part

My "Summer" exhibition quilt is about done.. Thank goodness as it is due Monday. This is last Friday.. finishing up this fun and breezy background.
I used Superiors varigated 40 wt Rainbow thread making whimsical scrolled in and out squares, rectangles, and triangles using whichever shape the next space called for. This is a continuos line meander of these shapes. Here's a sample start of a triangle. As with any scrolled in and out shape, you plan your exit spot on this first 'outline.
Next up, scroll in.You might use a squared or rounded turnaround shape. I tend to vary it in such a busy piece as this one.
Finally, exit this shape and head for the outline of the next shape you've chosen.
Here's a snap of an area of mixed shapes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wood is the word

The chair of the baby boy called for a simple wood grain pattern. To learn wood grain quilting.... take a sharpie and draw any shape tree limb on a practice quilt sandwich. Then starting at one end quilt part way down the limb to a location you'd like to see a 'knot' in the wood and begin to create an oval thusly.
Continue your stitching scrolling inward toward the center but leaving yourself room to turn around once in and come back out.
Now once back OUT, continue your stitch line further down the limb either toward the end, or perhaps toward the edge as in this example. At this point you will begin creating growth veins in the wood. In this case, once I stitched down the limb forward, you'll note I'm coming back toward the top of the limb... somewhat echoing the previous line coming down from the scroll.
Continue this type of pattern making some directional changes for interest.
Lastly, once you've figured it out... Save it for reference later. These sample quilt sandwiches are better than note books.
Now that we're warmed up with the practice, move on to the real deal. Look at how much the texture of quilt line enhances the wood chair leg. The as yet unquilted back leg looks BLAH!
More to go!