Tag Archives: year end wrapup

Recalibrating in 2022

Last year I began to poke my head over the parapet a bit and get out more. The landscape has changed as online teaching and get togethers become more permanent. I am so over Zoom meetings, though it can work for classes.

I used the extra home time to dive into non fabric art mediums such as collage and mixed media. Of course that meant new supplies were bought and a new learning curve was begun, which was a good thing. The basics of design and composition carried over from quilting, of course, but different mediums have different pros and cons.

It is so much easier, probably too easy, to make changes with paint and paper than with fabric. One new supply that gave me trouble was brushes – which type of brush to use and how to handle it. I found a world of difference between flat and round brushes, and was astounded at the difference a good brush makes for watercolor. This is where videos have an advantage over in person instruction as you can rewatch a teacher wielding a brush until the knack becomes clear.

While I made fewer quilts in 2022 I didn’t stop making them. I finished fourteen quilts, though some had been started before 2022. I consider “Homage to Escher,” “Rhody,” “The Left Coast,” and “Happy Accidents/Chaos Theory” to be serious art quilts. Two are experiments that didn’t quite gel – “The Eyes Have It” and “Along Portage Path.” The rest are scrappy quilts that allowed me to play with color.

Except for “Homage to Escher” I enhanced these with paint, Neocolor II water soluble crayons specifically; and I used a Spoonflower printed fabric in “Homage.” I am learning that subtle gradations and blurring of color are more effectively done with paint than with fabric or stitch. It’s also much faster to do – a big factor for me.

In 2022 I entered my work in fewer shows. “Dreams of Freedom” was in the 2022 Sacred Threads show and “Shattered” was in Fiber Art Network’s Excellence in Quilts. Hmm, it seems I didn’t tell you about the Sacred Threads exhibit. I realized that if my work is accepted I can count on an overall outlay of about $100 for entry fees and shipping. That cost would be worthwhile if I were publicizing my teaching or felt my work would sell. Since neither applies, I now think long and hard before entering a show. Alas, there are few opportunities to enter local art shows. Summit Artspace in Akron offers a few juried shows open to all art mediums, and my “Still Standing” was included in their 2022 Fresh show. I did show “Calliope” at the non-juried Lake Farmpark show in northeast Ohio and won a blue ribbon for my category. However, I am over judges’ review of my workmanship, so I don’t plan to enter any more shows with that feature.

Of course learning never ends. I did no in person classes, but took a six hour Zoom workshop with Valerie Goodwin. It seemed to be a sped up version of a longer workshop, so I took in less than I had hoped. I really should have taken better notes. I also tried a free stitching workshop by Gwen Hedley from textileartist.org, but found the approach didn’t work for me. However, the website is full of stitching inspiration.

On the paper side I took an online gel printing class from Drew Steinbrecher, and a few freebies such as Drew’s collaged board books and that for Fodder Challenge. To gain more exposure to mixed media I signed up for the year long Wanderlust class series. I found the lessons to be hit or miss. I think I did about 50% of the classes. I did learn about materials and techniques new to me – gesso, modeling paste, watercolor painting, and portraiture. The organizers had developed a structure centered on materials such as gesso, acrylic paint, inks, modeling paste, watercolor, etc.; however, the instructors sometimes made just passing use of the materials for that unit and at least one totally ignored them. I thought some of the instructors’ samples were awful, but other students rhapsodized about how wonderful the lessons were. Students were encouraged to post their work. I was surprised to see how closely some followed the instructor’s sample. I concluded there are way too many butterflies used in mixed media works. All that said, some of the student work posted was wonderful.

I just reread my goals for 2022 (where I should have started the post,) and I’ve achieved about 75% of them. I completed one more panel of my unknown family series,with one more to come. All four scrap strip quilts are done and dusted. I have found new homes for many of my quilts, especially small ones, though I still have far too many. Hand stitching my wool squares to a background is my Florida vacation project.

My biggest art life disappointment in 2022 was the demise of an art quilt group I belonged to for many years. Granted it wasn’t in the best shape before 2020, but Covid put paid to it. The members didn’t want to try online meetings, and managed to meet only once after things opened up at a lunch hosted by a generous member. Radio silence ever since. Individual art friends have moved away so contact with them is now online rather than in person.

Overall, my 2022 was a year of pivoting to other art materials and trying for more deliberate creation of fiber art. I guess my improv urges moved over to paper, where for 2022 I had the excuse I was a beginner. I’ll lose that fig leaf in 2023. Time for the big girl pants.


Filed under Art quilts, collage, Commentary, mixed media

The End of A Scrappy Year

Each year I try to look back at what I had hoped to accomplish with my quilting, what I actually did, and how I feel about it. After Elizabeth Barton’s master class in 2016 I was eager to get back to improv, so I began 2017 with three improv pieces drawn from my scraps. One of those is shown below.

Getting Brighter

Following that palette cleanser I returned to some work I began in 2016 and finished a few serious pieces.

Mean Streets

A Grand Day Out

My dyeing/painting workshop in June left me with a better understanding of more sophisticated ways to dye than the plastic baggie method, but I realized that it helps to have an end product in mind. Flinging dye on fabric takes you just so far. Score one for Elizabeth Barton. I used the least appealing of the fabrics I made in two tops which haven’t yet been quilted. The rest of my fabrics await the right project.

Next, I began my Nancy (Crow) series and have almost completed four pieces. I certainly had planned nothing like them, but they grew out of a short play session on Nancy’s way of piecing. Too late I remembered the caveats about working with all solids and what a pain white fabric can be. I think I have solid fabrics out of my system for a while, and out of my scraps.

Nearly Nancy

Throughout the year I made what I call sketches and challenge pieces, like Baby’s In Black for a Beatles’ song challenge.

You can see all my finished work for the year on the “My Quilts – 2015 On” page.

I concentrated on using what fabrics I had on hand, though of course I bought new ones, especially larger pieces for backs. (Hello, I’m Snarky and I’m a fabric addict.) Hancocks of Paducah has great sales (like $5 a yard) on fabrics ideal for second fiddle status.

When I got tired of sewing I pulled out stencils, stamps, and paints, and added more surface layers to cloth. This can lead me to projects designed around the cloth, rather than the other way around. It’s great fun, but may not result in work that transcends its media.


Right now I have three designs in process for a bullseye quilt challenge. I didn’t expect to finish them in 2017, but that’s OK.

In mid December I made a pillow cover out of brightly printed scraps as an antidote to all those solids. I used up most of my 1.5 inch half square triangles that were bonuses from snowball blocks. So I ended the year as I began – with my scraps.

On the minus side of 2017, I spent a lot of time on a large improv piece that to date is a failure. It uses many fabrics I designed and is an attempt to interpret a Paul Klee painting. I think I can improve it, but haven’t yet figured a clear path forward. The background structure is in place, but it needs more – of something. It looms large on my 2018 to do list.  Aside from the Klee piece I made no attempts to begin a serious piece that aspires to be art. Also, I didn’t follow through on my resolve to sketch out my work in advance. It happened for a few pieces, but not that many.

I like to see 2017 as a year of synthesis between detailed planning and winging it. I naturally work improvisationally because it’s just fun, but have realized a piece needs the backbone of a plan. Lack of a plan was the downfall of my Klee piece. So lately I’ve been creating improvisational units as a starting point, then developing a plan to use the units. I resist detailed plans because once the piece is all planned out I often have no interest in repeating it in fabric. In my mind it’s done. It’s why I haven’t pursued quilt design software. Maybe I’ll do a plan for every other piece in 2018.

For 2018 I want to work more with photographs, and will be taking an online course in using Photoshop Elements. After all, I need to put my weekly photos to use. I don’t have many big carryover projects, so I need to get busy devising some.

In surface design, I want to play with gelli plate monoprinting and cyanotype printing. Last year’s birthday bounty included a pack of cyanotype treated fabric squares, which I want to print with crocheted and tatted pieces I’ve inherited.  That project will have to wait for milder weather, but I can begin the monoprinting any time, or any time after I clear off my work table. I have a stack of fabrics that need more oomph, so they’ll be my first victims experiments.

I plan to spend more time looking at art in general, rather than confine myself to quilted art. So many museums have put their collections online it’s easy to ogle art from home. Of course it’s not the same as seeing work in person, but it’s better than nothing. My local art museum offered a year’s free membership, which I signed up for, so maybe trips there will spark ideas.

Some housekeeping is in order in 2018. I need to find new homes for my work. My husband and I negotiate which of my pieces will hang in our home. He’s a traditionalist and dislikes bold, dark work. There’s just so much room under my bed. I may even take the drastic step of pitching my failures, or perhaps I’ll just cut them up.

Speaking of displaying my work, I’d like to exhibit it more in non-quilt show venues. It may turn out that national art quilt exhibits aren’t interested in my work. The competition is keen. There are many art quilters far more technically accomplished than I am, and their work is more refined. At the local and regional levels, aside from shows organized by small groups for their members, not a lot of possibilities are out there that I know about. I have to decide if I want to take on the organization of such an exhibit for area art quilters, or even if there’s interest in such exhibits.

But enough about me.  I’d love to hear from you about your accomplishments in 2017 and plans for 2018.




Filed under Commentary