One of the great things about having my studio at McGuffey, is the chance to meet so many new people. Our studios are open to the public, so people wander in fairly frequently. I have met many other fiber artist from the area. I have met art supporters, and the curious. Meeting the public at my art shows, was one of my favorite things about doing art fairs, so I welcome the personal contact and chance to talk art with both those who are knowledgeable and those who are seeking knowledge.
And of course there are my fellow artists. The sculpture pictured here is by Jim Respess, my studio neighbor. It is a monumental scale public art sculpture in Charlottesville. Jim is both a philosopher and an artist, and we share a love of mid-afternoon tea with a dash of discussion! Another artist and I are talking about offering 'open studio' or 'fiber funday' classes next fall. Michelle is a mixed media and book artist, with a background in printing, so it could be a fun partnership.
Then there are tours!
Last week I had three groups of third graders come tour my studio. They were wonderful! The first group was so attentive and asked great questions. The second was a challenge; all over the studio but enthusiastic. The third group was right in between. A little girl stopped on her way out and said "will you please teach me?" So I said maybe in a few years, but she could come visit anytime, and she immediately looked at me and said "FRIDAY??!!" I really expected her to pull out a Blackberry to book a time!
One of the things the kids wanted to do is touch... I totally get that...it is why I have textured textiles instead of flat photos. So I told them, to never touch in a gallery or a museum, but it was MY studio and MY rules, so go ahead and touch. They did! And really got into the textures. One little guy wanted to know how many beads were on one piece and, when I said I didn't know, so he spent 10 minutes counting them and announced "153"!!
The following day, the touching got better.
Sarah, a confident and out-going young woman came into the studio Thursday. She was looking for part time work or even to volunteer to help in the studios. This is not remarkable in itself, but she was blind so it was pretty remarkable! She was asking many questions about my work, so I invited her to see/feel for herself. Her fingers traveled from stitch to stitch, and found the frayed parts and the smooth parts. She wanted to know the origins of the textures. As an artist, it was wonderful to see my work appreciated on a totally new level.
What are we missing by instituting a "no touch rule"?
The kids and Sarah really made me think about a feeling I have long held about art. I think we make it too precious. Would Rodin or Michelangelo really never have wanted the surfaces of their work to be enjoyed? Didn't they choose their materials for the feel as much as the look? Would we have even more admiration of Amsel Kieffer if we could experience the sharp and rough with our fingers as well as our eyes. Textile art is, in its very essence tactile, so why can we only touch with white gloves? As an artist, I find the term "visual art" a limiting misnomer. Art might be a far deeper experience if enjoyed with as many sense as required.
Okay, I get it, we are preserving our art for the ages. What if we didn't care about that. What if we feel that a few generations ability to experience 100% was better than eons experiencing only a portion? Should artists be able to tell museums and galleries, that [respectful] "hands on" is okay for their art? Almost every artist I know (including myself!) has been chided by guards for getting our noses too close as we struggle to see brush strokes and textures. I bet if you actually touched a Van Gogh, there would be some powerful vibes still in those strokes!
The pieces I am working on now for my February show are getting pretty intricate. There is stitching, cutting, couching, beading, and more stitching. I have been thrilled with the pieces so far, but yesterday something started to tickle my brain.... When exactly does intricacy turn into obsession? When will I know if have crossed that line? Well after few hours of pondering and I came to a conclusion, or test:
If the ART WORK NEEDS
the element or treatment to complete the composition or statement,
then it is intricacy.
If I HAVE A NEED
to do the treatment or put on another element to support some inner itch,
then it is obsession!
I am not sure I will always be able to tell the difference (after all, that creative itch is awful close to the obsessive itch!) but this does remind me to stop frequently and take serious stock in what is going on as I work.
Working in my studio at the Art Center, has been so good for this type of reflection. There is art work - finished and in progress - everywhere. I stop. I look. I silently critique... and then I am set to critique my own work. There are artists everywhere. I have discussions about color or style, or other "artsy" things that may have been back-shelved in my brain for a while. They get dusted off and reexamined. There is time and space. My work can sit out over night while I ponder. My ideas can be posted on the walls for slow infusion into my brain. My previous work is at hand to pull out and remind me of things that were (or weren't) successful in the past.
Am I making this sound idyllic? Well it is. So far so good. I can already see the effect having the art, the artists, and the time and space is having on my work. I am grateful and excited.
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have much to be personally grateful for, even in this time of world confusion and conflict. May we remember we are each part of a much greater whole, and help each other to find comfort and compassion when ever we can.
But now, about the studio; I have moved in and started working! The space is terrific, and the lighting is absolutely lovely. The above picture is me working in the morning sun. I have a great studio mate in the room next door. Jim make huge sculptures and I think owns every tool know to mankind! He and I share musical tastes, and so the studios are usually rocking away. Here are a couple of more photos of the space.
Before I get rocking on the pieces inspired by the Smokey Mountain Park, I decided to do a few "warm-ups" from some other Charlottesville photos. After Thanksgiving is over and "normal" returns, I will get down to business on the park pieces in anticipation of my February show at the McGuffey. Here are a couple shots of the work in progress:
If you want to see this piece FINISHED!! Click HERE!
After being gone for the month, there was quite a pile of mail waiting my return. Snuggled in the midst of the pile of junk mail were two wonderful publications!
The first was the 'International Quilt festival Quilt Scene' A special annual publication put out to celebrate the work at the Houston International Quilt Festival. (publication available here) There on page 51 was 'Fishy Fishy' and a write up about it. It was the sole representative of Jane Dunnewold's sponsored Digital Alchemy show that was taking place at the Festival. If that wasn't heady enough, a close-up of the fish was used on the title page of the article.
The second publication was SAQA's book "Wild". It is the showcase publication for the Wild Fabrications show of work also debuting at the Houston show. (publication available here) . My piece "Murder of Crows" appears on page 39. The other good news is this exhibit will be traveling to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin next year. This is a gem of a museum, and I am thrilled that one of my pieces will be visiting my home state!
Also while I was gone, my Sticks and Stripes quilt won a Juror's award in the Liberty Town Fiber Show in Fredericksburg, VA.
This was the day for my demo at The Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center. It is a long and beautiful drive to get over there, so I decided to leave immediately when I woke up. It was still dark, so I got to see the stars, and find a good place to watch the sunrise…well, me and about a half dozen other photogs! Every outlook had someone camped out waiting for dawn!
The morning was crisp enough that there was a frost during the night, and so a few more trees changed, and the frost edged the leaves. That golden sun that comes right after the dawn, the frost, and the mist rising from the streams, made the world both magical and saturated with color.
I got to ‘Luftee (don’t I sound like an insider!) with plenty of time so I went on a homestead tour with Ranger Michael Smith. He was so full of both knowledge and humor, and made the perfect guide for both the world of the past homesteaders and those who presently work to preserve homestead.
I met a busload of people from the upper Midwest, including a pair of guys who went to school in Phillips and Tripoli, my Dad’s hometown area. They didn’t have to tell me where they were from; the melody of their accent immediately gave them away! The temperature was perfect for sitting in the sun working all day, and I made great progress and had many interesting conversations. I will finish up the stitching on the piece when I get home.
After sitting all day, I decided to take the trail to the Cherokee Museum and back to stretch my legs. That plan didn’t last long.
As I headed down the path that ran alongside the stream, I came upon a herd of Elk moseying through the stream to get to the meadow by the visitor center. This is when I, again, realized I will never be a wildlife photographer! I swiftly backed up about 20 yards and my heart was pounding.
I picked a few huge trees that I could hide behind, and slowly worked my way down to the edge of the stream to watch the parade. I did manage to get it together enough to take a few shots, and then went back to watch from the safe viewing area. They are majestic and the Big-Daddy was HUGE.
I watched them for a long time. The Big-Daddy kept all the women and children herded together. And the four or five younger antlered bulls stood on the sidelines. Occasionally one of the young bulls, would start to approach the herd, but Big-Daddy just put his head down and let out a very convincing stay-away sound, and the young one became far less brazen. A couple of the 'boys' did some mock fighting just to test out there moves.
Finally it was time to head back across the Park to home. I had packed enough sandwiches and apples to get me through the day, so I stopped to eat and watch the sunset on the way home. It was another great day, and I think I was fast asleep by 9:00.
Here is the visual diary of my day!
The other day when I made the “plein air” piece at Cades Cove, I never got the shadows correct. People converged too quickly and too frequently for me to get them down before they changed again! Consequently the whole thing is very flat. I will be doing another one at Oconaluftee tomorrow, but I have an advantage this time. I got to take the earlier pictures of the place at about the time I will be arriving on Tuesday to do my work. So today I “cheated” and used one of those photos to block out the large areas of the composition, so I can just get down to the magic of details tomorrow. I am already seeing a great improvement with this one.
For the rest of the day, I went to explore another area of the park; the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I didn’t have big expectations for this. The road to it leads out of the middle of Gatlinburg, and with a name like “motor nature trail” ... BUT let that be a lesson; It was fantastic! People, yes, but n ot too many. Fantastic waterfalls to reward you for a long and winding multi-mile hike, several old homesteads where you can wander as you wish, and a tiny old mill by ‘the old mill stream’. The Roaring Fork stream winds with the one-way, one-lane road and the speed limit is 10mph, but usually slower.
The trail was not so steep, but, as you can see in the photos, the roots were amazing and treacherous.
It inspired me to compose the lyrics for a new country western song:
"When you're hiking through life,
and the hand you hold isn't with you,
it is good to have a walking stick"
I hope these pictures just give you a taste of another little piece of paradise!
Nothing to report… just stitched on the “Plein Air” mill.
Then came... Day 20.
It all started when I woke up. I am a morning person, so much so that my eyes open and my feet hit the floor pretty much simultaneously. Friday night, I stayed up later than usual (reading, appropriately, Carolyn Jourdan’s book “Bear in the Backseat”), so I was a bit concerned about getting the early start I wanted in the studio Saturday, but not enough to set an alarm.
When I woke up I looked at my watch, and read 8:13. That was about an hour later than I had planned, so I jumped out of bed, washed up, got dressed, and sat down for a piece of toast and tea. Then I looked at the clock radio. It said 3:03. I figured the power had gone off, so I decided to reset it. When I looked at my watch, I realized it REALLY WAS 3:03AM. Evidently 8:13 and 2:40, look a lot alike when you can’t tell the big hand from the little one.
So I went back to bed with my clothes on to catch another couple hours!
Once awake for good, I spent the day having fun with leaves. I am doing a demo at Sugarland Visitors Center Sunday, and there are not any fun old buildings to model for me, so I thought I would try to come up with an interactive idea. I had brought a bunch of fabric paints, but hadn’t got around to using them yet. I gathered some leaves brushed on the paint, and printed it onto fabric. Fun times! I decided to whip up a piece using the idea, and also cut up about 50 small pieces of fabric for the public to try it. So I am set for Day 21 activities.
Then came Jill’s taxi service for the day.
On the way home I noticed two Appalachian Trail through-hikers thumbing a ride from town back to the trail. The mom in me couldn’t resist, and without a TV, internet or even good radio reception, I could use the entertainment! They said they had been waiting over 45 minutes for someone to stop. A fact I found astounding considering the weekend park traffic. They had been hiking north to south (not the usual direction they informed me) since June, and were looking to finish the end of this month. The usual chit chat ensued for the next 15 miles as we drove to the trailhead, during which one of the guys said he was from Massachusetts. I told him my daughter-in-law was also from there. Long story short, it turns out they are both from the same small town in Western Mass, and he had actually worked in her parent’s coffee shop several years ago! Small world.
After I dropped them off and turned around to head back the 15 miles to ‘home’ I noticed the tourists were now bumper to bumper and crawling along. Knowing well my shortcomings, I stopped at the first turn-off that offered facilities I could use, so I could then sit in traffic in comfort.
As I waited to rejoin the parade, I noticed two young women crawling around their car, and trying every door. So they looked up, spotted me, and came and tapped on my window.
They had lost their keys while hiking. Well this is a problem our family is intimately familiar with, so I said “get in”. There is no phone service up there, and the Visitor Centers were now closed, so, unless a Ranger happened along, we figured I would take them into Gatlinburg so they could get help or AAA. Once in the car, one of them told me that her mom had told her that if she was ever in trouble to look for a mom-like person to help them. I guess I fit the bill. About half way down the mountain and after searching several times, the keys showed up in the bottom of a backpack. So we turned around and I saw them safely back to their car.
It was now dusk and EVERYONE was leaving the park, so I decided to enjoy the evening at the top. I took some pictures of yet another sunset, a pic of the way the streams turn gold at dusk, and looked for a good place to shoot a picture of the moon. Found it. Click on them to see pictures larger.
Day 17 and 18
On Wednesday, Jon and I decided to explore an area of the park I had not yet seen; Oconaluftee. It is the spot I will be working on site for most of the day next Tuesday, so I wanted to go and check it out in advance.
It was a lovely drive with short walks to a couple of streams, great vistas and turning trees along the way. It is up and over the mountain, so also a lot of turning roads!
The site is a historic settlers’ homestead complete with working garden, and piggies. The buildings are fascinating; the ingenuity to construct and survive is reflected in the workmanship and the creativity. There are barns and outbuildings homes and (on the way there) a turbine grist mill that is still working. And I never tire of the split rail zig zag fences so prevalent here. I am looking forward to going back on next Tuesday for a little “Plein Air” quilting! Checck out these photos of the place, and don't miss the kissing pigs!
Thursday, Day 18, was a “work day” for me! I donned my official volunteer hat and park shirt, and gathered my materials and headed to Cade Cove. We left early in hopes of avoiding the crowds, but I am not sure that is ever possible! The word is out that the best viewing of wildlife (Other than the tourist on the streets of Gatlinburg) is early AM at Cades Cove, so there they were – both the visitors and the wildlife.
Driving in was a slow stroll in your car, with total stoppage when an animal was sighted. Even with all the warnings, people jumped out of their cars and ran to take pics of the mama bear and her cubs. It was a fantastic sight though. The dew was heavy and the fog was light, and the morning light glowed on the fields and through the trees. I am so glad people could enjoy this beauty.
Once we arrived at the visitor center, where another crowd was gathered to watch an elk graze behind the restrooms, I found the park personnel who would help me know the ropes for my gig. They were a welcoming and warm group, and had a sign already for me! I found a great bench to set up my materials, a fence on which to hang examples of my work, and a lovely view of the water powered grist mill. Like Oconaluftee, Cades Cove is also a setting showing how the early settlers of the area lived and worked. While I worked, Jon tried (very successfully) his hand at photography – both of me doing my thing and of the site.
According to park personnel it was a very busy day, and I had many people who came to chat with me, ask questions about my art and the park’s artist in residency program, and tell me about their art adventures. My favorite quote of the day, “next to the bear I saw this morning, you are my favorite part of the park!”
Click on the below pictures to see them larger.
The weather was perfect, the people all pleasant, and a great experience. The artwork I did was a bit more traditional and unlike my usual, but it was fun, and it did the job of linking art to the park setting and providing interest and information for the crowd. I did a “Plein Air” depiction of the mill using small bits and pieces of fabrics, temporarily held down with glue. Then I took it back to the studio to add the stitching, texture and more details. Here is the result. Left; before stitching - done on site. Middle; after stitching. Right; finished.
NOTE: to see all posts from my Smoky Mountain Adventure, click on the category “Locale:Smoky Mountain Residency” on the right
Day 4 and 5
The rain continues to pour, so no silly hiking distractions to take me away from the studio! Started the day with that angst that is brought on by the [always happens] "this is crap" phase that every piece must go through just before you turn the bend! Compound this with the rain, missing home a smidgen and my initial adrenaline having been used up, and it took a while to find the groove. But thanks to cranking up some Bette Midler, Willie Nelson and Edvard Grieg, soon I was on a roll.
I got stitching well under way on the Green Lichen one I started the other day, and got two others laid out and auditioning for whether they will get a part or not. I noticed a lot of well soaked small branches outside my studio door, so inspired by the basket makers I saw the other day, I did a little weaving with them and some paper yarns. I think this will now be joined by some photos and lots of stitching!
I also pounded some leaves to see about using those images. Didn't get them quite right, but all that pounding certainly was a mood enhanced!!
Here are some of the works in progress... I will keep you posted on their progress!
Today I got to move into a studio on the Arrowmont Campus. What a joy and privilege. Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts was founded originally as a general school, and later, morphed into what it is today.
It hold advanced level workshops for all types of craft: wood turning, textiles, ceramics, etc. You feel the energy just walking the grounds. There are several Artist-in Residences here - all staying for about eleven months, then there is the rotating calendar of classes that draw artists and instructors from around the world. Last month was the first month they provided a studio for the GSMNP arts, so my timing was pretty perfect!
I got the place all settled yesterday, and a piece cut and ready to sew. Today the gods have provided a day of heavy rain, so I will not even be tempted to go sight seeing instead of working, so enough said... I am off to work while you take a look here at the grounds.
I will be leaving Monday morning for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I will be in an apartment in the park for the month as the Artist-in-Residence. The checklist is almost complete, and the art supply and fabric pile is larger than either the clothes or food piles, so I think I have my priorities right.
Some "plein air" landscape quilting is in the plans - putting down the fabrics on site and stitching later.
I have packed all kids of "toys"; dyes, screen print, paints, fabric crayons, etc etc. Because my real hope is to play, play, play, and experiment! I will also be trying some natural dying with a workshop that will be in the area.
The fall color should be in its full glory while I am there, so inspiration should abound for both photos and fiber.
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is just a mile down the road from where I will be living. It happens that the Surface Design conference is there while I am in the park, so I will also be attending that as well as the Natural Dying Workshop with Catharine Ellis. More inspiration I am sure!
I am so lucky to have this experience, and I will be sharing it with you here!
I am so thrilled to have four of my recent art quilts in the upcoming Houston International Quilt Festival October 29 - November 2, 2015.
While the subject matter of the quilts are quite different they all started with one or more of my original photographs custom printed on fabric. It is my goal to make sure at the end, it is not just an embellished photo, but instead the photo and the stitching are so completely integrated that neither would be complete without the other.
I was hoping to get to Houston, but will be just ending a month as an artist-in-residence in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so will head home instead! But if you are there, I would love to hear what you thought of the show, so please let me know through my Facebook pages (jill2day, or jillkerttulaphoto), or here!
Below is a gallery of the quilts that will be there and the names of the shows they will be in. Please click on them to see them in full crop and detail.
As I said in and earlier post, my photos are my sketchbook. They train my eye, inspire me, and are just plain fun! But I really like it when one (or more) inspire me to stitch, cut, bead, add, subtract, or whatever to them so that they may gain the textures that fiber art can bring to them. So here are a few ways that I use my photos in my fiber art.
As whole cloth ...
Sometimes the photo is printed to become the basis for a whole cloth quilt. I loved the composition of this photo and didn't want to change a thing about that, but I wanted to add the grit and texture of a sidewalk with embellishments that included dryer lint, leaves, and found objects, as well as yards and yards of stitching. This is "Where the Sidewalk Starts"
As the inspired beginning...
Again, I really likes the photo, but not so much the crop, so I "enlarged it" piecing other fabrics to the photo. I also let the photo inspire the directional flow of the stitches, and the type of embellishments that I would include.
This finish quilt "The Blue Brush" includes about seven different photos, some collaged within the initial fabric printing, and others added later. The subject matter was far less important than the colors and textures of the photos. Most importantly, the photos had to integrate with the stitching, added fabrics and each other to form a cohesive composition.
Here are three different "auditions" for placement prior to sewing the collage together...
'The Matriarchs' took a road trip to Cary, North Carolina to be in the 'Reminiscence' show, put on by PAQA-south. I drove down this weekend to check on them and join them at the Artist Opening. The event was held in a beautiful venue. The Page-Walker Arts & History Center is a wonderful old building that now houses rotating art shows. They filled two floors with the entries juried into this show; and it made for a beautifully curated, diverse and high-quality exhibit of a wide range of styles of art quilting.
It was a real surprise to walk in and see my ladies, greeting everyone as they hung, front and center, over the guestbook! I also found out they had appeared in the mailings and advertisements for the show - I thought it looked like their heads were a bit larger than when they left home!
The show was fantastic and only surpassed by the wonderful people I met while there! The organizers from PAQA-south were enthusiastic and welcoming to all the attending artists. Great show - and a fun dinner of camaraderie out afterwards with many of the attendees. Here are a couple more shots of the venue:
But wait! There is more!
The awards were announced during the opening, and 'The Matriarchs' were given a judge's choice award!
A second judge's award given to Susan Lenz for the fabulous quilt made with vintage gloves and fabrics (shown below) and a gallery prize given to Cindy Pryer for her innovative 3d quilt (also shown below). Click on the photos to see them larger!
And a couple non-quilt related shots of the venue!
Last night we had an opening for the New Members show at the McGuffey here in Charlottesville. It was well attended and festive.
This is the third show I have participated in at the McGuffey. The first was a fundraiser, the second a Holiday show and this present show. I am so pleased to be involved with the caliber of artists represented by the McGuffey. It is a co-op that has been a mainstay of downtown Charlottesville for 40 years. The artist represent virtually every kind of visual art, and also dance and performance arts.
I am on a waiting list for a rental studio in the center. There are about 40 artists on site, each of whom is actively working, teaching classes, and participating in many outreach programs. In the meantime, I have accepted a position as the Liaison for the Associate (non-rental) members. Wish me luck!
So I have decided to try some dust it off and try my hand at thread painting. I am hoping it will work a bit like a hand painted photos, but whatever happens, it will be fun spending time with the family Matriarchs the only way I can now. Hopefully they will whisper some ideas into my ear while I am working!
Below is how I hand basted the major sewing lines to start with. Now onto the machine! Wish me luck!
To raise funds to buy new lighting, the McGuffey Art Center is hosting a art sale in November. They have distributed 12" x 12" boards to participating artists to do with as they wish... I wished to cover mine with fabric! This is the piece I have just finished. It was inspired by all the beautiful sunrises I recently saw in Virginia Beach. I have also included some close-ups so you can see the beads and stitches better! All of the works will be on sale for $150 each, and all the money will go for the light fixtures.
One of the great places here in Charlottesville is the McGuffey Art Center. It is an old elementary school refurbished into an artist incubator, gift shop and gallery. There are many studios for artist- in-residence, gallery spaces, classes, open life drawing, etc etc etc.... and .... wait for it... it is three blocks from my house!!!!
The first time I went there I was blown away by both the caliber of the art on display and the variety of artists involved. jewelery, print making painting of all sorts, sculpture, fiber, drawing, and even a performance area is available. The studios are open for people to walk in and talk to the artists and every one I met was really on the program of helping people to know more about their process and art in general.
They jury artists in twice a year, and September was a jury time. I made some new fiber art, sharpened my resume, and created the all important artist statement so I could throw my hat into the ring.
It was hard keeping my fingers crossed for several weeks, but it worked, and I got my notice of acceptance. I am thrilled to be a part of this organization. There will be an upcoming holiday show and then a show for the new artists.I am also making a piece to donate to their fund raiser in November. I guess I better get busy!
I will keep you posted!
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !