Art Muses/Art Musings

Everyonce in a while it’s good to leave your tribe and take a look at what other artists are doing.  It also helps to be in recovery from shoulder surgery so when that rabbit hole in Instagram opens up, you have too much time are free to follow where it leads.

Polly Apfelbaum_1

Photo: Polly Apfelbaum assembling “Mojo Jojo,” Pérez Art Museum Miami, 2013. (from DrawingCenter on IG)

I first followed the Polly Apfelbaum hashtag.  She is an artist about my age, and still producing interesting and thoughtful works of art, many which seem to intersect my world of quilting. I grabbed this screen shot from DrawingCenter, who also had a series of quotes from her, which I loved:

“Her interdisciplinary approach is most notable in her floor pieces that she refers to as “fallen paintings,” the series of work that she best known for. Laid on the floor in intricate and somewhat psychedelic patterns and forms, the paintings are made of fabrics that have been dyed brilliant hues. The striking use of color aligns her work with abstract expressionism, but rejects the hypermasculinity of the style through the use of fabric and horizontal orientation. Apfelbaum explains that “[the] floor was a place that was inclusive but I could also be reverent.” By installing on the floor, viewers are able to walk around the art making the piece more fluid and approachable.”

She goes on to say “that she wanted “a relaxed sense of form, a form that was more abstract, a form that could kind of be chameleon-like, it could go from talking about minimalism, but could also talk about maximalism…and to craft.” Indeed, the dialogues around her hybridized work are wide-ranging and include feminism, religion, outsider art, and domesticity.”

Loved the “hypermasculinity” idea, reminding me of when I proposed a show of quilts to my Art Professor in college.  “Over my dead body,” he said.  It was then I realized that quilts were essentially, in his mind, NOT art, but I daresay they might be called “hyperfeminine” with the use of fabric, of soft construction.

Polly Apfelbaum_2

Apfelbaum also works by creating shaped woodcuts, which are then inked in vibrant colors, then placed in a design.  Of course I think it looks like a quilt. More images, below:

Polly Apfelbaum_3Polly Apfelbaum_4Polly Apfelbaum_5Polly Apfelbaum_6

This last one is especially quilt-like, I think, in terms of the shapes.  Is the quilting world is having an impact on others?  They probably don’t know we exist, but I do believe in the idea of cross-pollination:

Luis Zerbini2.jpg

Luis Zerbini.jpg

These last two are by Luis Zerbini, a Brazilian artist.  The second one is definately an Orange Peel block, or a Wedding Ring variant, if you ask me.  Even housework can inspire art:

Lynn Aldrich‘s Coral Landscapes made from house cleaning items; the one on the left is titled Marine Preserve.  I wonder if the one on the right is a wannabe Lynn Aldrich?

Anyone for some Nine-Patch?  With pieced sashings? Start cutting up your solid scraps into squares.

The art world can also be an interesting way to learn about value, a classic part of creating an interesting quilt.  I’ve tried to include the sources so you can go and have a look:

IMG_3236.jpg

Bringing this to a workshop would certainly get everyone’s attention about the impact of using those light-to-dark values.

IMG_3239

I’m pretty sure she does this with make-up.

IG feed Jan 2019.png

A screen shot of my Saved images from this morning.  I’ve started making categories and put some of these in the Random Color/Art category of my saves.  Just after you hit that little ribbon to save, the prompt comes up: Save to Collection.  Tap that, and then either direct the save into a category, or make a new one.  It helps in finding things.

IMG_3237.jpg

You might want to try to what I call “focused browsing” if your eyes are glazing over after looking at three billion quilts in your feed, and you’ll scream if you see another heavily curated shot with threads and scissors everywhere where you feel like you are trapped in the Dungeon of Cute.

Color theory and effect

a screen shot of the #colortheoryandaffect hashtag on IG

Some of the hashtags I followed were #gridart, or #hardedgepainting, or the names of the artists themselves. @DurhamPress also had some interesting images. Sometimes I would go to an artist, click on the name of the gallery they were showing at, then look at what the gallery had.

Yes, a little focused browsing might just clear the mind a little.

Inspiration: Okano, Manzanar, Etc.

Eiko Okano_Time for Supper

Eiko Okano’s exhibition of quilts is up at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. (Someday I want to go there.)  I first saw Okano’s quilts long ago and at that time wanted to buzz into her studio and be a fly on the wall as she created.  Unlike our quick-study Instagram world, where quilts are being produced at the rate of 300 a second — or so it seems — I imagine her process would take a bit longer.

Eiko Okano_Delicious and Round

I love the wild, dancing rick-rack scribbles in the border of this quilt, and those buttons!

Eiko Okano_Delicious Quilt

I want to hang this one in my kitchen.  These photographs are all taken from the IGSC website, where more of her quilts are shown.

Ballard Street MOJO

Ballard Street cartoon

In charging up my creative batteries, which often we speak of as “mojo,” I found this series of ten videos from 99U, which are about the creative process.

Everyting Is a Remix.jpg

I intrigued by the concept that this one gives us, that — believe it or not — springboarding off of things that others have done, is a time-honored path to creativity. Notice I said “springboarding.”  No one likes to have their work cloned, unless maybe you are making a pattern or something that is designed to be cloned.

Flower Garden closeup.jpg

I watched this in process with the release of Sherri McConnell’s quilt, “Flower Garden,” in a magazine this week.  It’s the old hexie flower you have come to know and love, but Sherri gives it a modern twist, a new spin, and now I want to gather up hexies and start making my own.  She started this several years ago, once again giving me hope for my own long time lines for some quilts.

And, as usual, after a spurt of creativity, I take time to clear off my workspace, find the floor again (stacks of fabrics often migrate there when I am looking for a “certain piece”) and plan out time in my calendar.

Dilbert List.png

Manzanar Trip_1Manzanar Trip_2jpg

A change is as good as a rest, my mother says, so this past week we took a break from calendars and sewing machines and usual activities when we drove up to Manzanar (about a four-hour’s distance), to visit this National Historic Place.  The memorial is evocative, terribly sad, and enraging, all at once.

Manzanar Trip_2aManzanar Trip_3

The Mt. Whitney mountain range is stunningly beautiful, and we took some time that night to enjoy the sunset and rising moon.

.Manzanar Trip_Bottle Ranch

On the way home, we stopped at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, a Mojave Desert attraction, all built by Elmer, a man who gets up in the morning, fires up his welding torch and gets to work.  Unless, of course, he doesn’t want to.

Thank You.jpeg

I have a re-cap post on the Mad for Solids 2018 coming, but I wanted to thank you all for the efforts you made to put my quilt design and curated stack of solids in the Winner’s Circle.  I enjoyed getting to know new quilters and their creative worlds, not only those who also had stacks, but you quilters, with your IG and FB and blogging sites.  Keep up the good work of interacting and supporting and cheering each other on.  I love this quilty world!

Liberty USA Mini Quilt, 3

Well, I finished up the top of my Liberty USA quilt.  And in other breaking news, I also was cleared to take off my sling.  My hands are now free-er than they were a week ago (and I’m even typing more, rather than dictating) but it’s still a slog for a long while.  So, this quilt top will rest until I can figure out how to quilt it, since the left arm is more like a wet noodle than a functioning member of a FMQ duo.

But it’s fun to be at this place. 

One interesting drawback to this whole one-arm thing, is that you can’t clean up the sewing room very well.  So the day after I got my sling off, I noticed the pile of Sarah Jane scraps on the top of the cutting table, as it was one of the last projects I did before heading into surgery.  I had wanted to make Eliza a doll quilt to match her big-bed quilt, and now was my chance.  I scissor cut some pieces, sewed them together, and finished the top.

I tried quilting my HQ Sweet Sixteen, practicing on a quilt square scrap, but it was a no go.  You need two hands for that.  So I used my walking foot on my regular machine and was able to get it quilted.  Off it goes into the mail today!

I’m not doing much cleaning, or sewing, but I have been doing some thinking about where we get our inspiration from.

This is Ingrid Blood’s Bye Bye Rubric Cube.  I have seen it twice now, once in the fall, and once at Road to California, and thought it was terrific.  Then, because I sit and read and read and read (lately), I found this:

Look familiar?  I wonder if it’s more than a coincidence that Blood used Edna Andrade’s abstracts as inspiration (even to the use of that red center), but I have no way of knowing.  Andrade, although she died some years ago, was more popular at the end of her career and after her death.  She worked in the Hard Edge school of painting, of which June Harwood was a “member” — a painter brought to my attention by my nephew, who is observant in All Things Art & Design.  (I actually have two nephews like this, and their IG feeds are always full of interesting images.)  These painters’s ideas are ripe for the picking by modern quilters, as they have a distinct lines between edges, which suits our medium of fabric.  Here’s some more Andrade:

I remember being in a discussion in a class taught by Ruth McDowell, where someone posed the question if she should be acknowledged when we finally finish our quilts.  Typically self-effacing, she offered that it would be a nice gesture to acknowledge those that inspired us, or helped us.

Why are we loathe to state our sources of inspiration?  Does it diminish our efforts, or is it really unnecessary?  Andrade didn’t acknowledge the other hard-edge painters in the corners of her paintings, but Wikipedia notes that:

Andrade listed artists who particularly influenced her style including Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, and Josef Albers.  Andrade also notes that she was influenced by architectural design, philosophy, mathematics, and design (Locks bio). She was specifically inspired by things such as astrophysics and Freudian psychology, contributing to the complexity and detail of her paintings.

And from the notes from the Locks Art Gallery:

I think many of us are skittish after the Modern Quilt Guild laid down the law on “derivative works” last year, and we are skittish about recognizing where things come from, just in case the Quilt Juries don’t let us in.  While I do think there is some good things that came out of the pronouncement last year (just how many floating rectangle quilts can we invent?) it also did harm to those of us who dabble far and wide in our inspirations. [For an excellent recap of that tempest, head here.]  I hope we come back to a more even pitch, so that we can give credit to things that inspire us, just as Andrade did.

Colorwheel Blossom, 2014

I would never have this quilt if it hadn’t been watching the Apple Keynote address when they launched their iOS system changes a few years ago.  I boldly put the inspiration on the entry form when I entered it into QuiltCon a couple of years, and they rejected it. Did they reject it because of the Apple connection?  I’ll never know, but it doesn’t really matter. Yes, it’s derivative and yes, I love it.  It hangs in the front hallway of my home, and it’s still a favorite.  Instead of worrying about whether or not quilt juries will accept our quilts if we springboard off of someone like Andrade, we should make what we love, from what inspires us, and not be afraid of our inspiration.

Another couple of reads:

Derivative Work from Entropy Always Wins

Derivative Work from the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild

Let’s Be Clear from She Can Quilt

Inspiration. . . and a Giveaway!

{@IPTCcontent.headline}

Nancy Crow Crosses Info

In the book I just finished reading, Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, he writes that “Nothing is original.”  He quotes Jonathan Lethem who notes that “when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.”  And in our quilt world, I see this all the time manifest in the copyright squabbles, the this-is-my-original-pattern-syndrome and it’s only a variation of a log cabin, the insistence by some in the modern quilt movement that they dreamed it all up — this modernist stuff, without any regard for where the idea first surfaced. . . and then resurfaced.  When I see this stunning quilt by Nancy Crow, made when many young quilters’ parents had not even started dating, I think, as did Kleon when he quoted the Bible, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

But Kleon goes on to say that this idea fills him with hope, rather than despair:  “As the French writer Andre Gide put it, ‘Everything that needs to be said has already been said.  But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”  Kleon encourages us to note where our influences come from.  I say, if you don’t know about some of the earlier quilters, try heading to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum and browse for a while.  Take a look at these early masters and be inspired.

Steal-Like-an-Artist-Kleon

To inspire you, I’m giving away a copy of Austin Kleon’s book, a small little treasure, perfect for some end-of-summer reading.  To win a copy, leave me a comment below and include a source of inspiration, whether it be another quilter, a photograph, an image, nature or something else–something or someone that provokes or triggers your spark of creativity.  Rather than just saying “nature,”  or “Michael James,” try to be specific, such as “the moment the sun drops to the horizon” or “Michael James’ ‘Aurora’ in his early work”  so that we can learn from each other.

I’ll announce the winner on my next post, and send you a gift card from Amazon so you can order it yourself; for this reason, it will work for international as well as domestic. Have fun, everyone!  This post will close on Saturday morning.

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

My blogging software runs ads on this blog so I can blog for free.  I do not control the content, nor do I endorse these ads.

Inspiration Strikes Everywhere

RachelPerryWeltyinUPPERCASE

On this, National Quilting Day, I thought I’d share two videos from the magazine Uppercase, which recently published work from Bari J. (The above picture is from the magazine’s website.)  They apparently are having a Spring Sale on subscriptions, if you want to be inspired monthly by their magazine.

Uppercase Screen Shot

Why do I mention this?  Inspiration for our quilts can strike anywhere and everywhere, and why not a gorgeously produced publication to give us a little inspiration?  I’ve been ripping out magazine pages for years, and clipping interesting photos from the newspaper for my files.  That Old Time Method parallels my Pinterest pinning, as well as the file of digital images from quilt shows, blogs and screenshots from Instagram.  I say, grab your inspiration where you can find it.

Here’s a vimeo about 10 surface design tips.

And here’s a little bit of what their magazine is about–fun for us to look at–a little eye candy!

Lastly, another source of inspiration for me has been other blogs.

Edrica Huws_6

That’s where I found out about this (now-deceased) quilt artist Edrica Huws. (Address of the blog is in the picture.)  Apparently nearly 51 years old when she began her mosaic-like patchworks, she sometimes took a year to create just one.  Here is an excerpt from an article in the Guardian newspaper:

“Edrica Huws, born in 1907, spent two years at the Chelsea School of Art, gained a diploma from the Royal College of Art, and worked as an artist until she married the Welsh sculptor Richard Huws in 1931. Five children later, and living in rural Anglesey with neither electricity nor running water, she turned her hand to poetry and began collecting fabrics for her patchwork. She was 51 when she began her first patchwork picture of a greenhouse. It took her a year. The challenge was in getting the assemblage of differently figured pieces to look like a representation of her subject, but not too like it. The scraps had to be treated like scraps, not like paint, or mosaic. Edrica said herself in a lecture in 1982 that to her ‘the essence of an aesthetic experience’ was ‘the control just winning’.”

Back to the blog:

Edrica Huws_5

Edrica Huws_4

Edrica Huws_3

 

I did a search on her name, and while I never found a way to purchase her book, I did find many photos of her quilts, apparently from an exhibition she had (and mentioned in the Guardian article).

Edrica Huws_2

And in a comment on the Guardian article, someone wrote: “Quoting from the book Edrica Huws Patchworks she says: ‘It was pleasant to have some recognition, but even without it, I would have carried on… When I had reached a time when I could have started painting again – I had more money, more time and more space, the three things that I lacked earlier – I no longer had the inclination. In a strange way, it seemed too easy.’ ”

Edrica Huws_1

Happy National Quilting Day!

Creativity and the Web

I’m thinking about all those affected by the horrific storm on the East Coast.  I have several quilty/blogger friends, as well as quite a few family members who have been affected and hope that they and their families are through the worst of it.  I’ve been on a blogging break this week from the computer (I wrote this post earlier) but I just wanted to jump in and send my thoughts to those who are dealing with this “Frankenstorm” and its aftermath.  Take care, everyone.

****************************************

In my class at school, we just completed a unit that was based on this book by Nicholas Carr, titled, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains.  We had our Discussion Panels last Wednesday, and it was fascinating that the students were fairly perceptive and able to discuss how the Internet has impacted their lives, for better or for worse.  One young man is fairly sanguine about the whole thing, saying, “Well, it’s here.  We just have to deal.”  Another pair of young women took opposite positions on the question of whether print was dead.  The internet’s main impact, that of re-wiring our brains due to neuroplasticity, was skirted around, but acknowledged when they all complained of the inability to finish a book before distractedly checking their phones for texts or messages.

And I think it’s rewired my brain as well.  Carr goes through the history of civilization’s adding of new technologies, from writing to moveable print to the typewriter and onward to clocks and the internet.  I was interested in his discussion on tools: “The tight bonds we form with our tools go both ways.  Even as our technologies become extensions of ourselves, we become extensions of our technologies.”

 I thought about how quilting has changed from the time when I used to trace a pattern onto cardboard, carefully cut it out and tape the edges for stability.  Then I’d trace it about a bazillion times in order to make a quilt, following along the pencil line for the seam.  I did use a machine for piecing, but hand-quilting was the only way to finish a quilt.  That’s why my list of 100 Quilts took so long to grow: our tools were more primitive before the advent of rulers and rotary cutters.

He also references Frederick Taylor’s Time-Motion studies and how it has changed how workers do their jobs (above: a golfer takes a swing).  Before Taylor came along, “the individual laborer, drawaing on his training, knowledge and experience, would make his own decisions about how he did his work.  He would write his own script” (218).

I think of us at work.  Some of us spread all our fabric out into a lovely mess (like mine, above).  Others fold and organize continually throughout the day.  I like to doodle around with my computer when thinking up a new quilt. Some like to start cutting, throwing the cloth up on the pin wall to see what’s going on.  Carr notes that with Taylor’s regimentation of industry’s messiness, something was lost.  “What was lost along with the messiness was personal initiative, creativity, and whim.  Conscious craft turned into unconscious routine.”

I hope I never become such a slave to a pattern or a ruler or a system of making a quilt that I can’t make  a creative and conscious detour into creativity.  But sometimes I wonder when I make a copy of another’s quilt, using one line of fabric if I’m not caught in a type of quilt-machine using Taylor’s demands for proscribed motion.   Is this creativity?  Am I being creative, or just following someone else’s script and benefitting from their decisions?

And like many of you, I’ve been following #quiltmarket on Instagram.  Carr said more than once, and I’m paraphrasing here, that trying to control the flow of information from the internet is like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant at full blast.  The internet caters to the new! unique! amazing! as we all know.

I also have Pinterest boards full of ideas, most are quilts which I’ll never make, but pin them up there nonetheless.   Can we be creative 24/7, or is that too exhausting?  Has the Internet made better quilting possible?  More interesting quilting?  Given us an access to a wider range of styles and types?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I only know that sometimes the Internet affects us quilters, too.

So my question now, is how has the Internet affected you?  And has it been for better. . . or for worse?