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.
When I was growing up Bedford, VA was a little sleepy redneck town that had seen better days. The agricultural way of life that had formed it since the 1700’s had given way to a few factories most men worked their farms in the evening and worked in the factories during the day.
As we took the bus to school up 122 everyday we would pass the old abandoned Big Otter Mill (formerly known as Forbes Mill) building. At the time, it was rather grey from many years of sitting alone in the sun and rain. Boards were missing. Windows long ago broken out. Weeds and wild trees growing in and out of it.
Built originally around 1919 the mill had ground flour and corn for locals.
Now, thanks to the Big Otter Mill Foundation, the building and grounds are is being restored as a historical and educational building. Donations are always appreciated. Their aim is to restore the building to its original working condition, and use it for teaching others about the history of agriculture and food in our community.
I was so inspired by the change in the mill, that I have created two wall hangings based on aerial photos of the property that were taken by Mr. Thomas Fields of Northsky Dromes.
I love the fact that others think our history and what has made us unique is worth saving! And I am inspired to create art that says this is part of who I am as well!
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’ve been fiercely creative these last few months. It is part of the reason I have not been writing often enough on this blog. Besides the 5″ x 7″ thread paintings I created for the Electric Company, I have created a number of alternate pieces for changing out the art come January.
I have also done a number of commissioned pieces for collectors and friends.
This series was commissioned as a holiday gift working from the client’s photos.
So much is happening in life today. In the process of closing on a cabin/studio/gallery in Bedford, Virginia where I will be relocating by the first of 2018. The Cabin is a lovely handicapped accessible, one-floor cabin to live in. There is a totally separate 800 Sq Ft. companion building beside it that will be a quilting studio and a Gallery for my art quilts.The gallery has been a quilt gallery before. In fact, my mother sold quilts there in the late 80’s. It has also been a garden center, a wine shop, and a fine art gallery. I will be very happy to return it to a full-service quilting studio to complete quilts for other quilt top makers, as well as opening the gallery to showcase my Art Quilts.
I’ve been accepted into a small gallery collective in Bedford called The Electric Company Art & More. I have a number of my small thread paintings for sale in the gallery there. The Gallery there is also having a Holiday Show featuring works of art for $99.00 and less. I have six (6) 5″ x 7″ Thread Paintings available for sale in that show as well. Here are the works that are currently in the Gallery in Bedford.
It has been a crazy month here. We have bought a second home, a cabin/studio/gallery for my business Little Old lady Quilting, in my hometown of Bedford, VA. I have been working towards this for a while, but it all happened rather quickly when things lined up.
Besides preparing for the purchase of a new property, I have also been organizing and planning and working towards more inventory for the studio. I have also been creating a number of items for sale at a gallery in Bedford.
I am now a member of The Electric Company Art & More at 207 E. Depot Street in Bedford, VA. 24523. How that fam about is a funny story. I had intended to enter some pieces of art into their annual holiday Art4Gifts show. Everything in the show must be priced $99.00 or less. Since so much of my quilting work is large and time-consuming, I knew I would have to especially create something for this show.
I began to make a series I called “The Bedford Paintings” – six small 5″ x 7″ Thread Paintings based on my original artwork of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I made the pieces, I posted the process and the finished works on my Facebook page. I was suddenly selling them as fast I could make them. Thre of the six I sold immediately and had to remake copies of them for the show in Bedford. Since I was moving them and had a good response I decided to prepare a larger number of them to have ready when I needed them. I prepped 18 of them with images and the fabric underlay I do to have them ready.
Since Mike and I were taking a long weekend Columbus day weekend to go to Bedford and look at a property, I took the six I had prepared for the Art4Gifts show along with 2 extra thread paintings with me to show the gallery to see if they would accept them for the upcoming holiday show.
My thought was being in the show was a good way to get my name and my artwork known in the Bedford community before we moved there. But what happened was that the Gallery coordinators were so excited about my work that they convinced me to join the gallery as a full member and hang my work right then for display and sell in the gallry. I agreed and actually signed a year+ gallery contract for them to represent me in Bedford.
Since they took all eight of the works I had taken with me, when I got back home to Burke, I now had to create six more for the Art4gifts show coming up. Luckily I had prepped the 18 so It was a matter of finishing the thread painting, and labeling and framing them, and getting them in the post to the Gallery in time for the Oct 21 deadline.
The Six additional paintings for Art4Gifts – November 1 – Dec 23, 2017, at The Electric Company Art & More. $99.00 each
At the same time, I got a commission for two pieces for a small show in November for the Reston Community. PLUS I got a five-item commission (from photos the client provided) to create for a Christmas presents for her husband commemorating a holiday trip they had taken together…. Photos to come after she has gifted him over Christmas. I was very pleased with how the came out!
Another Client Commissioned me to do a small 8″ x 8″ Wall hanging for her of a Red Clover plant — one of her favorite plants and the state flower of Vermont, her home state. Here is the finished piece.
I have finally finished all that work. We have a ratified contract on the Cabin/ Studio/Gallery. There is much work to be done on the property. But, I have a gorgeous Studio workspace to create more beauty, and a lovely Gallery space to display and sell my work along with the work of others I deem fits the concept I have of a gallery focused on the crafts and the landscape of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley.
I am also working on some larger works that can hang on the walls. My goal is to have a number of large tapestries and small thread paintings ready to sell when we close on the property in December.
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…
This was the last panel of five or the Virginia Wildflower Tapestry. It also as probably the one the scared me most. I had no idea how I was going to get the 3-d effect I wanted and still maintain a sense of whimsy and joy that I had found in the other panels.
I am very happy with this work. I had to redo the background of the tapestry because the original background was too dark and too formal. I wanted more joy in the colors and in the spontaneity of it.