Giving myself a deadline is definitely a good move for me.
For the past 2 weeks, I have been working on the Shelbie quilts and nothing else. Now the deadline is looming and I realise I will not get them all done by the date I set myself. That’s OK, as I will have completed at least 3 by then and hopefully started on the last 2! For the last three, I have decided to use the quilt as you go method as 1. It’s easier to manoeuvre a block than a large quilt through the throat of my machine and 2. if I decide to use templates for quilting, they are easier to use on one block. Once mid-April comes, I will give the Shelbie quilts a break (I am assuming I will still be doing them) as I have another charity quilt I have committed to that needs to be finished Mid May.
I started the month off doing Zentangles but realised that it took away valuable time from quilting. I will be back doing them as I know they help my creative progress, stinted by my obsession with reading or watching anything to do with politics or world affairs. I particularly like the top three in this gallery block!
I barely started the #the100dayproject, but once my commitment to quilting has eased up, I will restart it to finish the sketchbook by the end of the year. I have a clearer idea of what I want to do now, making it a better challenge and they will relate to all my creative outlets, not just painting! My last piece was associated with the current Ukraine crisis and, to be honest, seemed a bit pointless when millions of people’s lives are being destroyed. Unfortunately, the one war that is being totally ignored is the one in Yemen. From what I can tell, it is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the poor population of Yemen stuck in the middle, suffering the most (dirt poor, back to the dark ages poor🤬). It’s all too much for my brain to comprehend, and I cannot do justice to either conflict with my rather feeble attempts through art, so I won’t be doing anymore.
That about sums up the last 5 weeks. Next month will be even more different, no doubt. A good chunk of my time (2 afternoons) during the week is taken up by trips to the Swim Center in Cedar Park, where my granddaughter trains. I love it as it takes me back to my days with my kids, who all swam when we lived in Scotland. This is the last week my husband is a WFH worker after 2 long years. I will miss the regularity his schedule has given me for the past 2 yrs. I will miss his company at lunchtime and just popping into his office for a chat if he wasn’t busy with a meeting (which he has endlessly!) Fortunately, he will not have to go in full-time. He will be one of those lucky workers who can choose to WFH for 2 days a week. It will be a nice easement into retirement in a couple of years.
My brain is all over the place. I need to focus on one thing, but that seems impossible.
I have continued with the Zentangles; these seem to keep me calm and focused even though my desk where I do them is constantly a mess. My whole art room is a mess at the moment. When isn’t it?
I have also started Shelbie’s T-shirt quilts, and I plan to do 5 in total. They will be wall-hangings (about 50″ x 50″) for her Mum to give to close family in memory of Shelbie. They are not that difficult to make (so far) but time-consuming as the t-shirts have to be cut up, and then interfacing has to be ironed on to stabilise the fabric. The panels are all different sizes, so I am using the remnants of the cut-up t-shirts to make the blocks the same height in each row. I have finished one quilt top and I should finish the 2nd one tomorrow. I have not thought about how to quilt them yet, but I should start to plan. I am going to quilt one as I make another quilt top. I aim to finish them by the end of March, so I have about 6 weeks to do all 5 quilts. Phew!
I was looking at some posts on Instagram and I saw something called #the100dayproject. So, much as I enjoy the Zentangles, I am basically copying someone else’s work. With the t-shirt quilts plus the zentangles, I felt I wasn’t really being that creative. I have a large sketchbook I purchased for the Susan Shie workshop and apart from a couple additional sketches, it has been largely abandoned. So, in my weird wisdom, I thought this looked like something I could do and challenge myself to keep up a regular drawing/painting schedule. I always feel bad that I don’t use my sketchbooks. I have a ton of them! Plus, I have a lot of supplies that need to be used. Already I have discovered that leaving your gouache paints for months is not a great idea as they just dry up in their tubes. I solved that problem simply enough by cutting open them with a craft knife and using them like pan paints. I haven’t started off well. Today would be day 7 and I have done 3 with the 4th in progress. I will catch up! Changing bad habits doesn’t happen overnight, as I keep telling myself to stop beating myself up about not doing it.
Then there are 2 other things pulling me in different directions. First, last night I attended our quilt guild meeting and I signed up for their annual charity quilt project with the Linus connection. They had been given hundreds of Batik samples and they want 35 quilts which are given to children in crisis within Central Texas. They have to be completed, pieced and quilted by the middle of May. I already have ideas of how I am going to do mine.
Lastly, I have a friend who is a fantastic sewist. She has been making bags, pouches and wallets for the last year or so. One particular wallet she made using her circuit cutting machine. This got me thinking that is precisely the sort of thing I should try on my Brother Scan n Cut. I don’t plan to do it in the next month or so, but it is on my increasing list of things to do this year. I might even make a bag!
Last year started off well (creatively) as I signed up for a drawing class with Susan Shie called Lucky Drawing # 000. At the time, I didn’t appreciate how much of a benefit this class was to me. It really kick-started me into working solidly on something, rather than wandering around my head, ‘should I or should I not do this?” It definitely pushed me into directions I wasn’t used to or tended to fight against. I used the sketchbook one time after that to record my feelings about the big Freeze in Texas last February. It was brutal. I need to get that sketchbook out again!
Quilting was my main focus last year, as it was in 2020. However, I have got to the stage where I know I don’t want to do traditional quilting, but where do I go next? I started off the year by finishing a UFO, which dated back to when I started to quilt in 2018, my Oops quilt. After that, I did a bit of exploring, beginning with a class curated by Lisa Walton called Aurora. I liked it so much, I did another class with her called Fantastic fusion. It was very similar to another course I had taken at the end of 2020 with Susan Carlson. I did a couple of other small quilts after these classes, and then I did a deep dive into Ruler work quilting. I am an OK free motion quilter. I think my ability to draw makes it easier for me than a lot of quilters. I am not a good piecer which is why I have decided I will not be doing traditional quilts, as they cause me too much stress which takes out the enjoyment for me. Given my recent obsession, it is really no surprise that I was drawn to the preciseness and patterns of ruler work. Ruler work, as the name implies, uses a ‘ruler’ or “template’ so you have more control over the shape and size as you sew. With free-motion sewing, it’s harder to keep the stitching regular and the shapes uniform. Well, that is the theory but both methods require a lot of practice. That is what I ended up doing much of the year! By the end of October, after spending too much money on templates after watching videos on YouTube, I came to the realisation that maybe ruler work quilting wasn’t for me unless (pause) I could find a way of using it in my freeform work which is what I did with 2 of the small quilts I made, Solar and Standing stones on a wall. My breaking point came with a set of placemats and a table runner. They are still waiting to be finished and the truth is, it could be done in a day or so; I am that close. But I hate them! So, where am I going to go with my quilting in 2022? More freeform and mixed media. I have an idea which, given how slow I work, will take me until we move in 2024, at least! It will be a series of smaller wall quilts that could be hung separately or together. I want to explore painting my own fabric and printing on that fabric. I will use all the skills I have gathered over the last decade with beads and embroidery. It will be exciting and nerve-wracking. It will be FUN!
My very 1st project of the year, which I have already started, is a t-shirt quilt. It’s a practice piece before I tackle the main project, making three wall hangings from the t-shirts of my former daughter-in-law. Her mother gave them to me late last year to share among her family in her memory. This is one project I need to get right!
In November, to drive me out of my now familiar funk (I think it must be a seasonal thing), I began trying out my hand with Zentangles and drawing on the digital drawing tablet my son got me last Christmas. I began my foray into the digital drawing world by downloading Krita, a professional drawing website. The 1st page was daunting enough, without the thought of drawing, although my nine-year-old granddaughter uses a drawing app all the time! Youtube to the rescue again. One particular video channel was very useful. ‘Learn Krita with Bob Ross’ on the Age of Asparagus channel. It was great fun as well as being a good learning experience.
I do a regular countdown to Christmas project on Instagram, and originally I intended to practice my digital drawing by drawing a day up to the 24th of December. I quickly realised that was way beyond my abilities. The tablet has been put away for now but I fully intend to get back to it once I am back into my routine.
At the same time I was delving into the world of digital drawing/painting, I decided to look at Zentangles. I had some experience of them as I was given an instructional book by one of my kids, a few years ago. I tried it out but the book wasn’t overly inspiring. I noticed that one of my long-time Facebook friends was exploring them and posting the results. I knew it had an aspect of mindfulness that I thought might help with my current state of mind (it helped me stop using sleeping tablets after nearly a decade!). I was only going to do it for a week or so. Yet again, Youtube came up trumps! I have found a few very useful channels and have used them with my drawings. However, they take a long time to complete and on some days, I had to stop or end up frustrated. The opposite of the intended effect! I am doing them in a bullet journal which I have never used dued to the pandemic. Not much to plan when there is so little to do!
My Christmas project turned out particularly well, although I never quite completed all 24 days as normal! Next year, I will start a few days ahead of December. Then I might complete all 24 days.
That about sums up my year of work. I did forget one period and that was when I signed up to do a free course by Louise Fletcher called finding your joy. Sometimes I feel guilty about not painting anymore. It was an effort to rediscover the love I have for painting. Maybe I will find it again when, or if we move back to Scotland, I hope so. This course did not help in that regard. You can read my posts about my feelings on this program. In my head, it’s forgotten. It’s the art world’s pryamid scheme basically. The highlight of this dull year (apart from my art, of course) was receiving the people’s choice award at our local quilt guild’s annual show. I loved making this quilt, and yes, I painted it and quilted it on a domestic machine, but the real credit should go to Helen Godden, who designed it.
That is my round up for 2021. Now onward to 2022 with even more success than last year!
Okay, I would have written a longer post about this image, but it would have just come across as whiny. That would have been wrong as I enjoyed the class, but by this time, I knew it wasn’t a direction I wanted to follow.
Nixon was something that happened when I was a teenager. I was aware of him and Vietnam; however, it was not something that concerned me at the time. I was enjoying life, as many teenagers would. That was my focus, not some misbehaving politician in a country I would never visit. Also, at the time, our nation was going through a tumultuous time, with a miner strike, a three day week while having rolling blackouts, two elections and I needed to learn the square dance to Tiger Feet performed by the pop group Mud.
How to deal with this subject? I decided to relate what was happening in the UK as the Watergate saga played out, leading to Nixon’s resignation in August. I turned 17 that month.
On the sketchbook’s left side, I drew about the miner’s strike and the rolling blackouts that occurred due to the strike. 1973 saw the start of an intensive IRA campaign about the presence of the UK in Northern Island. I remember hearing the bomb that went off in Chelsea Barracks, where several of my school friends lived. Fortunately, none of my friends were injured in that attack, but the continuous attacks left a mark on me for a long time. 1st January 1974 was the first time New Year’s day was a public holiday in the UK. In Scotland, where New Year’s day (Hogmanay) had been a National holiday for a while, Boxing day (26th December) became a National holiday for the 1st time. I also found an article by the Observer on the British viewpoint on the Nixon resignation.
On the right side, I drew about the research I made on the Nixon resignation which I will be honest about, wasn’t much. I also included two cultural things I knew about America at the time. One was a film of a book written by Stephen King. The other was the all-time classic show, Happy Days. Apart from the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation, I also researched that he was the primary force behind establishing international relations between China and the world.
In the end, I completed the assignment but to me, it looked like one of those information sheets you get at museums. I wasn’t happy with it. It was all over the place and had no real structure.