I began my visual art career as a painter mainly creating landscapes using oil Pastels. I loved the texture and the ways you could blend them (and the vibrant colors available.)
What I didn’t really like about painting was that a viewer can not touch it, feel it, explore it. I branched out into silk wall paintings that became quilted tapestries. From there explored traditional quilting techniques, and finally have landed in my niche as a art quilter who also LOVES incorporating thread painting in many of my works.
Most of my art these days is base on my original artwork that I am “transcribing” into fabric art. Art that IS touchable as far as I am concerned. I also work at times from photos of places and properties that people would like commemorated in a thread painting.
My latest series of wall hangings are based on a series of paintings I did years ago. I loved the format and felt that they would transcribe well into the art I am doing today.
I’ve officially been here in Bedford for two weeks. It has been time spent cleaning, unpacking, and arranging Little Old Lady Quilting Studio/Gallery to get ready for visitors. I’ve been sewing a lot of the time too.
So I thought I’d show you a little of the display furniture that I’ve been accumulating:
Of course, first there is Ruby. She is my HQ Avante 18 long arm machine and my best friend! Though she was not cheap, she was an investment for a lifetime. (Mine anyway)
So that is where I am today. 2 months until my grand opening on March 31, 2018 10:00am – 4:00pm. I still have a ton of stuff to make, and some friends and family to collect things from. But it is slowly coming together!
Home! It means different things to different people. In all my travels around the world there was always the idea of HOME in Bedford, VA. when I left Bedford 40 year ago, like many young people then, I could not wait to get away could never dreamed of any reasons to return.
A lot changes in 40 years.
I traveled the U.S and parts of Europe as a classically trained professional singer. I rubbed elbows with well to do people. I learned to speak proper English. I learned to eat fancy food and to wear really expensive clothing and even to be comfortable in it. I confess, even as a child my sisters alway thought me a bit of a snob and elitist and I enjoyed the world outside of Bedford.
As I aged out of my professional career as a singer, I began to look at other creative endeavors to fill my life and produce an income stream as well. I worked for a number years building a career as a Fine Artist working in oil pastels and oil painting. And then I discovered the world of Quilting.
In all fairness I must say I returned to the world of quilting. My Mom had been a quilter most of her later life, She would spend hours in her basement sitting beside a hanging quilt rack hand stitching quilts she had pieced from old scraps of fabric. That was the world of quilting I knew. But then i discovered the work of ART QUILTS and my life changed. One of the things I was unhappy with in my oil paintings was that there was no chance for a tactile exchange and discovery between the viewer and the artwork. “Don’t Touch” is everywhere they are displayed.
But I WANT my artwork to entice people to touch it, to follow the seams, to explore the landscape or the image in front of them. See how the thread is layered like paint for blending and for effect.
So, now I have returned to Bedford. I am in the process of opening a private Studio/Gallery to continue to create my artwork and to finish quilts for others with my long arm machine and FMQ. What is most interesting to me is that my love of Bedford has grown 1000 times. I love the people. I love the landscape. I love the big skies. I love the weather. I can spend the rest of my life just creating works of art that celebrate Virginia, Bedford, and the Blue Ridge Mountains and I will never run out of subject matter.
Like this Wall hanging I have almost completed of Dogwoods — The State Tree of Virginia.
So it is official. We have bought a Cabin/Studio/Gallery in Bedford, Virginia and will be relocating there almost immediately to set-up and open my new Studio/Gallery for Little Old Lady Quilting.
We will be living here in the beautiful cabin nestled here in the blue ridge, and enjoying walking over to the 800 Square foot Studio/Gallery next door where I will be doing my long arm quilting for the local quilters; as well as creating my art quilts and my thread paintings to sell to the tourists and the gallery shoppers passing through.
The Studio gallery is going to give me ample space to show my work and the work of other local fiber artists, while also giving me a major work space for teaching classes in beginning quilting, thread painting, and etc.
I plan to have a GRAND OPENING for Little Old Lady Quilting Studio/ Gallery and have the Gallery open full time beginning the first part of April. If you are taking a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, or coming near Beautiful Bedford, VA in the spring, please stop on in and say hello!
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!