Monday, August 04, 2014

Blogging the Creative Process

Two of my quilt artist friends asked me to participate in a blog tour of artists' blogs, answering some simple questions about the creative process. I have enjoyed reading what others have written. My friend, Diane Perin Hock blogged last week here. And Deborah Boschert, another quilt artist friend, also posted last week here. I loved reading about how each of them approaches her work. You can follow the chain backward through their blogs for some great reading and beautiful artwork.

Now, on to the questions.

What am I working on?
I just finished up two pretty large pieces that were submitted for a traveling exhibit, following closely on the heels of three more large pieces. I feel like I need to "lighten up" a little, so I am exploring some new ideas and making a lot of small work. Most, actually, very small.

I have been fascinated with doing "drawings" with black thread, using my sewing machine. I've been wanting to incorporate more drawing into my pieces, but it doesn't seem as effective in large work as it does in smaller, quieter, more contemplative pieces.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think, over time, my work has taken on a distinctive look, but I have a hard time really articulating what separates it from other fabric work. Perhaps it is the way I incorporate line into the work. That feels like an important part of what I do. Perhaps a lack of drama—I am definitely drawn to quiet, everyday subjects and modulated color. Lately I have been using a lot of recycled mens' shirt fabrics, many of which I have over-dyed. I love the softened look of worn plaids and stripes.

Why do I write/create what I do?
I think I was born making stuff. It was part of my personality from as far back as I can remember. I feel fortunate to have discovered early what makes me happy and to have been encouraged and supported in this by the people around me. I am an unhappy, uneasy person when circumstances don't allow me time to sink into a creative project. The kind of work I do has a lot to do with where I have been and what I have experienced and how memory shapes who we are. It is my way of recording my time here on earth.

How does your writing/creative process work?
It all starts in my head. A memory of an image, or a photograph. Or a visual idea that somehow begins to nag at me. Slowly, often as I am falling asleep at night, it begins to take form. Then comes a sketch, usually, but not always, an interpretation of a photograph I have taken. (I take a lot of photographs as I travel or observe the world, with possible art subjects in mind) Once I have my small sketch I put the photograph away and do not refer back to it again. If the piece will be large, I often use my small sketch to lay down a rough sketch on a background fabric, then I begin pulling, from my fabric stash, the fabrics and colors I want to use. How the colors relate to one another and how they will support my design, not how they match the reality of a scene, are what determine those choices. I begin cutting and placing fabric in sections, pinning them in place, so they can be moved around or replaced if things are not working, then all is fused in place. Stitching, layering and quilting are the final parts of the design process. I tend to quilt pretty heavily and spontaneously, choosing a stitching pattern that enhances the line or adds an interesting texture.

Once I have finished a piece I hang it up and look at it for a few days, and often see it is lacking something that I can add, or in drastic cases, needs major revision. Once that is done I put it out of sight for awhile. I am tired of looking at it. The next time I see it I can view it with fresh eyes, and only then will I know whether it is something to share, or just another step on the journey.


I have asked my friend Peg Falconer Weber to continue this blog tour and she will be posting about her creative process to her blog next Monday. Peg comes from a creative family of photographers and artists and has found her own creative voice as a maker of exquisite hand-crafted books. I envy and admire her lyrical, seemingly effortless calligraphy style, one of the elements that sets her books apart. I know you will enjoy getting to know her. Watch for her blog post next Monday at


  1. I am curious. What do you do with all your work? Some you probably like so it's hanging somewhere (your home or someone else's). Other things are less memorable. So what do you do with "the steps on the journey"?