I’m sorry it has been so long since I wrote on a regular basis. I do tend to keep up with my Facebook page but I’ve been so overwhelmed with the planning, and lots of manual labor and health issues trying to get Little Old Lady Quilting Studio ready to open the end of March. I had also foolishly planned to have a solo show at The Electric Company & More art gallery in downtown Bedford opening at the same time. And I agreed to do a Artists Market Brunch at the Bower Center For the Arts the last weekend in April. All of these displaying all the work I have been creating for the last year (that which had not sold already… ) On top of that i was building my clientele for the long-arm-machine finishing quilts, and doing an average of two of quilts a week on the long arm besides the thread art commissions I have I needed to be creating.
To say the least it was a mad couple of months.
I’m going to try and write weekly at least to keep the world posted of what Little Old Lady Quilting Studio is up to.
My first quilting client in Bedford brought me this magnificent hand done needle point block quilt made by mother and daughter.
I wanted to quilt this very simply to give it strength and stability , but not to interfere with the hand stitched embroidery.
The client was very happy with the finished quilt. as was I!
Home! It means different things to different people. In all my travels around the world there was always the idea of HOME in Bedford, VA. when I left Bedford 40 year ago, like many young people then, I could not wait to get away could never dreamed of any reasons to return.
A lot changes in 40 years.
I traveled the U.S and parts of Europe as a classically trained professional singer. I rubbed elbows with well to do people. I learned to speak proper English. I learned to eat fancy food and to wear really expensive clothing and even to be comfortable in it. I confess, even as a child my sisters alway thought me a bit of a snob and elitist and I enjoyed the world outside of Bedford.
As I aged out of my professional career as a singer, I began to look at other creative endeavors to fill my life and produce an income stream as well. I worked for a number years building a career as a Fine Artist working in oil pastels and oil painting. And then I discovered the world of Quilting.
In all fairness I must say I returned to the world of quilting. My Mom had been a quilter most of her later life, She would spend hours in her basement sitting beside a hanging quilt rack hand stitching quilts she had pieced from old scraps of fabric. That was the world of quilting I knew. But then i discovered the work of ART QUILTS and my life changed. One of the things I was unhappy with in my oil paintings was that there was no chance for a tactile exchange and discovery between the viewer and the artwork. “Don’t Touch” is everywhere they are displayed.
But I WANT my artwork to entice people to touch it, to follow the seams, to explore the landscape or the image in front of them. See how the thread is layered like paint for blending and for effect.
So, now I have returned to Bedford. I am in the process of opening a private Studio/Gallery to continue to create my artwork and to finish quilts for others with my long arm machine and FMQ. What is most interesting to me is that my love of Bedford has grown 1000 times. I love the people. I love the landscape. I love the big skies. I love the weather. I can spend the rest of my life just creating works of art that celebrate Virginia, Bedford, and the Blue Ridge Mountains and I will never run out of subject matter.
Like this Wall hanging I have almost completed of Dogwoods — The State Tree of Virginia.
So it is official. We have bought a Cabin/Studio/Gallery in Bedford, Virginia and will be relocating there almost immediately to set-up and open my new Studio/Gallery for Little Old Lady Quilting.
We will be living here in the beautiful cabin nestled here in the blue ridge, and enjoying walking over to the 800 Square foot Studio/Gallery next door where I will be doing my long arm quilting for the local quilters; as well as creating my art quilts and my thread paintings to sell to the tourists and the gallery shoppers passing through.
The Studio gallery is going to give me ample space to show my work and the work of other local fiber artists, while also giving me a major work space for teaching classes in beginning quilting, thread painting, and etc.
I plan to have a GRAND OPENING for Little Old Lady Quilting Studio/ Gallery and have the Gallery open full time beginning the first part of April. If you are taking a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, or coming near Beautiful Bedford, VA in the spring, please stop on in and say hello!
This weekend I have been laid low with body issues. I have a degenerative spine disease which is slowly crippling me. I deal with it fairly well most days. But the drugs I take for pain management have their own side effects and so I am trying to wean myself off at least the massive doses of steroids. On top of that it seems I have picked up some kind of stomach bug or the flu.
The good news is that I do not want to eat much right now. (I am always struggling with my weight.) The bad news is that I don’t have a lot of energy right now, so I am not getting much done in the studio.
One of my dear friends reminded me Friday that I work pretty much 24 hours day. And that I do not take time for myself often. She again told me that without replenishing the well of health and creative energy with rest and meditation and time out in the world, I can not constantly create beauty.
So I gave myself permission to take off Saturday (yesterday.) I lounged in my overstuffed love seat with the puppies in front of a fire. (It is getting colder now.) I watched old movies. I had some fresh popcorn. (I didn’t want real food.) I let my mind wander and dream. I had some wine and I slept like a baby last night. (I don’t sleep well usually.)
This morning I woke up feeling better, fresher, with my mind ready to get back to work, although my body is still lagging behind a bit.
I started work on a new tapestry/wall hanging Dogwoods.
So I am back at work a little, although I promise to take it easy today. There is no deadline for this piece to be finished… although I tend to be a person who can only work on one project at a time until it is completed and then move on to the next one.
Soon I have to begin to sort and pack my studio for the move to Bedford, VA where I will be opening my Studio/Gallery in the spring. Life is good.
I am in the process of relocating my life and art to my hometown of Bedford, VA. PArt of that process is creating a body of new work to have as inventory for my Gallery that will open in April of 2018. It is interesting to observe that as I am focused on producing work as efficiently as possible, and in a larger quantity than I have ever worked before, my art is morphing, changing and growing into new forms I had not considered working in before.
Thread painting as an art form has been around for centuries, but I only came upon it as I was exploring ways to use fiber and quilting in smaller artworks. It has taken over my art for the time being. I am loving the ability to produce a “painting” of colored threads that is both impressionistic and realistic and which people can easily connect to.
My latest work “Golden Moments” is about capturing the light across fields in the Bedford countryside.
My process for these is continually changing and growing. I am currently exhibiting in two different galleries The Electric Company Art & More in Bedford, VA and The Gallery at Lake Anne, Reston. I will have my own Studio/Gallery open in 2018 in Bedford, VA.
My goal this year besides relocating to my hometown of Bedford, VA is to set up my quilting studio and my Art Quilt Gallery to support myself. I have been working a lot these past few weeks on producing small works for galleries and shows for the holiday season. Sometimes it can feel like “selling out” that I focus on things only for selling. But isn’t one of the major points of being an artist to produce work that connects to people in such a way that they want to own it, share it, take pride in it, even rejoice that it is unique and something only they have? Therefore it is a good thing for me to do and to be excited about as a means of supporting myself.
At the same time, I get the urge to create things that are different and take up more room in the the room. So when I have a moment’s break I visualize and create larger works (or a series of works that go together) so that I can continue to grow and keep my mind fresh and continue to learn.
In the last few weeks I have created several wall hanging that I am really happy with. They are unexpected things. They grew organically as I played with them. None of them turned out as I had originally visualized them in my head, which to me is always a good thing. I can be such a realist visually at times, and my own idea of Art is not about reproducing an image exactly, a camera can do that, but rather capturing the sense and feel of an objects or landscape.
The Mimosa series was inspired by photographs my husband Michael Putnam took of Mimosa blossoms at their early peak. I struck by the play of light on the long tendrils as well as the sheer beauty of the blossoms. In trying to recreate that sense with thread painting, I had to play with whether to work from the center out or the outside in. Ultimately, working from the outside to the center proved more exciting and allowed me play with depth and focus, but also with color and a sense of transparency.
This wall tapestry was based on one of my older oil paintings. It was a glorified and an abstracted idea of the house and property my parents lived on after I left for college. I had so much fun with this one because of the exaggerated sense of proportions, and because it allowed me to play with my preferred color palette. With this kind of quilting and thread painting, I have to find a real balance between the amount of thread painting I want to use and the weight of the piece. With borders etc, there can be a lot of wavy fabric flow if the balance is not correct. I intentionally carried the thread painting into the borders outside the image to keep a sense of continuity and not make it feel so much like a painting or a set image.
This piece is nothing like what I started working on in my head. I had envisioned a small wall hanging with strips of solid colors and thaws slashed and then reshaped, and hung on an organic shaped background.
This piece, WHO CAME FIRST?, obviously had a mind of its own. The farmyard styled fabrics fell from the shelves into my hand. I sewed a few strips and then wonky cut them and re-pieced them. Since I had a little chicken theme going thought I would quilt the front piece with a string of eggs pattern, (much like a string of pearls but changing the connected shapes.) But the wall hanging was not at all happy with that idea — and forced me, literally to fill in each of the eggs. Then of course the idea of who came first appeared. At the last moment the little chick in the upper right hand corner decided to be hatched. ANd so there it is.
I have been very excited about all the changes going on in my life and art. Two new changes and they are big ones happened in the last two weeks! I got now machines for my studio!
First meet Simon le Greed: He is a Singer Confidence Quilter desktop machine for my thread painting.
Simon came to live with me last week to replace my little Heavy duty singer 4111 that finally died. It was cheaper to buy a new machine than to take the old singer to someone here to replace it!
My other new baby was a complete surprise and unplanned for now, but she is exactly what I needed and wanted. Meet Ruby:
Ruby was a surprise indeed. I have been wanting a HQ for a long time, but it was not in the cards financially. Plus, we are in the process of moving to Bedford, VA where I will be retiring and opening my Studio/Gallery for business there in March 2018. But I got a call from my local Dealer who is required to purchase a new HQ every year as part of her contract, and so I got Ruby (a slightly used floor model with a NEW warranty on her!) at almost 1/2 off her regular price. She is currently in pieces and boxes in my studio basement at home until we can move her to Bedford and get her set up. I am so excited to have her in my life and for all the possibilities that she presents to my future!
I am in the process of relocating to y hometown of Bedford, VA. Bedford is a beautiful small town located it the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virgina, between Lynchburg, and Roanoke. Ove the last 30 years or so it has changed from a poor redneck little town to an artist community with a lot of retirees and others moving there for the quality of life it offers at an affordable price.
I am moving there both to be closer to my younger sister as we get older so we can take care o each other if/when we end up alone, and ALSO because I have the chance to purchase a lovely Cabin/Studio/Gallery on the mountain where I can live and work and sell my art quilts and other things to make a little income for the rest of my life and can afford to live comfortably there.
One of the galleries there (The Electric Company) has a call to artist to submit works for their holiday show. Nothing may be priced above $99.99. I figure it was a good way for me to produce some small works that I can work on my technique with, and that, if they do not sell for this show, then I will have them for my gallery in Bedford after I move. My original Idea was that this was a great way to introduce my work to people in Bedford.
I began by using photos of my many oil paintings created from my emotional memories of growing up in Virginia.
I create the images by first using Susan Carlson’s glue techniques to give me layers of fabric color for guidance of the piece. Then working from the back to the front of the image I added thread details and overpainting to give me layers of color.
Surprising even myself, I have already sold 4 of these small works and the show they were originally created for will not happen until December!!! The response has been terrific. I think it is a combination fo the price point, and the artwork is beautiful and intriguing…
Coming at my quilting as I have from a painters perspective, it is often the first steps that excite my creative juices and gets me thinking outside the box — drawing and color choices. In my last Blog post, I showed the single long sketch idea that started this process for me, and then the individual pieces as they were organically cut apart and readied to begin the work on each one.
My next step in this process is to come up with a color scheme. Not only for each of the panels for in a way that connects the piece as a whole. Using nature as a guide line (very loosely, I might add) for plant color, I juxtapose colors for unity, for conflict, for emotional response. I use Sharpies to paint in the color ideas I have. These are not set in stone but are guides. I tend to choose fabric along the color lines but the intensity and the textures can change at any time.
You can see from these colorized sketches that I use a very liberal connection with natures colors. As both a painter and an art quilter I love pushing color boundaries.
After I have worked out my color schemes come the fun part of picking fabrics! Even as organized as I am this can be a bit of a messy process! But I love to see fabrics against each other and play with their individual color in light and dark and how they respond next to each other.
Now the creative and disciplined part really begins: chop and glue!
I began a new Wall tapestry this week. I have been playing with new quilting techniques inspired by Susan Carlson’s large glued wall quilts. I also recently saw some quilts by Velda Neuman that just blew me away.
We have had a long, tough year here. I have been dreaming of quilting. Last year I began the process of business planning to create a studio business for myself finishing quilting for other quilt top piecers. My original intention was to invest in a long arm machine and set up shop full time as a quilter. I live in an area with a lot of high-income-family quilters who, as one Quilt store owner told me when I was discussing my plans, “Quilt with their pocketbooks.” they love to make tops, they don’t mind paying to have them finished for them. I belong to one quilter’s quilt that has about 300 members. Many of them pay to have their quilts finished.
I rented time on a long arm machine and I love the process of quilting. I actually love quilting and finishing other peoples tops MORE than I liked piecing quilt tops. (Which is VERY different from how I feel about creating one of a kind art quilts!)
In the mean time, life took over. I spent three months driving my partner back and forth to Baltimore for cancer treatments. ( thank god he is doing fine now!) I came to grips with my own health issues — primarily a strange disease called D.I.S.H. that calcifies all my tendons and ligaments where they connect at my spine and turns them into bone, along with cervical and lumbar stenosis of the spine that makes standing and walking for long periods of time incredibly painful. All of which makes standing and working at a long-arm-machine for a job impractical.
BUT! I am ready to make some serious changes in both my life and in my living. I am in the process of relocating to Bedford, VA. where I was born. I intend to open a studio gallery there and to sell my own art quilt works, as well as do quilting for other piece-makers. I am looking at investing in a sit-down long arm machine instead. I seem to be able to work for long periods of time seated and not have the strain on my back for now. ( I am currently doing all my quilting on a little Heavy Duty Singer machine 4011 with a 6″ neck…!!!!) In that mode, I am focused these days on creating pieces for a body of work that is professional quality and unified in my own style of “painting” with fabric. I am focused on creating art pieces not that are based on my own sketches from nature and on my oil landscapes which are all paintings of my sense of place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia.
In that mode, I am focused these days on creating pieces for a body of work that is professional quality and unified in my own style of “painting” with fabric. I am focused on creating art pieces now that are based on my own sketches from nature and on my oil landscapes which are all paintings of my sense of place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia.
Bedford VA is a beautiful little town somewhat lost in time in the Blue RidgeMountains. It has become a bit of a tourist destination due to the National D-day Memorial there. (Bedford County lost the highest per capita number of young men in the nation at the D-day invasion of Normandy.) There is also the Smith Mountain Lake area of Bedford that is a resort/ retirement destination for many who love on the water.
Bedford is a Designated Main Street Town, it is part of the Virginia Artisan Trail, and it hosts numerous arts and community associations and events for all.
Because of this, and the incredible beauty of the area, I have always longed to return there in my soul. Almost all of my oil paintings were based on remembered visions and feelings of the time I grew up in that idyllic area. The colors, the emotional response to the landscape and to nature there have always held a fascination for me. And so art quilt work is beginning to reflect that desire and to prepare for a market here as well. Thus the new wall hanging Virginia WildFlowers.
Virginia Wildflowers is a piece composed of 5 different wildflower panels of plants native to Virginia: The Giant Red/Green Trillium, Ladyslipper Orchids, Purple Violets, the carnivorous Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and my favorite wild Virginia Bluebells. The finished piece will measure approximately 30″ x 60″ depending on how the separate panels are connected. I have designed the panels to have organic shapes and to have visual interest with cut outs and with texture from quilting and from 3-d flowers and bead ornaments. I am very excited about the project. I am going to walk you through the development of these. Here are the original sketches on muslin ready for the process to begin.