Friday, September 28, 2012

Creative Wisdom: baby steps

Turn off your computer: go to the library. Bring your sketchbook along.
Randomly open books (over in the non-fiction section) and jot down ideas.

For Your Inspiration: Chicago

I spent an absolutely lovely weekend with my sister in Chicago.

(all of these were taken on my iPhone with the photo synth app) 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Creative Wisdom: baby steps

Today - Taking Care of Business.
You know there is at least one thing on your list of stuff to do that isn't the fun stuff. That stuff hangs over your head and gets in the way of your creativity.
Take one business related activity you've been avoiding - and do it. 
(I'm setting up my new projector and live demo equipment. I've had it for months and haven't turned it on. It's about time - I've got to get a handle on it before heading out to teach in Houston next month.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Creative Wisdom: baby steps

Today's creative baby step - find another pile or mess that is in the way of your creative space and clean it out.

While you are there take a peek at a few materials, play with them, put them together, take a few pictures of your options.
 You might find that this opens a few windows to an idea. Or perhaps the floodgate opens and you just can't stop... flow with it!
So how has it been going this month? I hope you've been gently nudged into that creative place in your soul. I've done a little bit here, a little bit there... nothing dramatic. My studio is still half buried in piles of junk. But - half of it is useable again. That's a good thing. I didn't get any great works of art done, but I'm close to getting back into that creative place - where before the door was shut. I was burned out. I'm working on it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Creative Wisdom: baby steps

Today's baby step toward that creative place...

Find a time, choose a place, and put it on your calendar.
I chose the Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh and invited another artist along for a few hours of sketching.
It was blissful.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creative Baby Steps from Jessica Porterfield

This just in from Jessica as a result of yesterday's creative baby step.

"Wanted you to see what I completed after I sewed two pieces of fabric together. Am pleased because I have never tried a pieced border before this. Am a novice free motion person and not sure what designs to use but I will figure it out.  Thank you." - Jessica Porterfield
You GO girl!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Creative Wisdom: baby steps

Todays creative nudge: sew two scraps together - then two more.That's all.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

For Your Inspiration: the Tuba Exchange

I had my horn in to "the guy" who does the best brass work in the area.
His shop happens to be part of the Tuba Exchange in Durham, NC.
It's a lovely little place - if you are in the area it's worth the trip.

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

I've just spent the entire day at the middle school, working with their horn players - and recruiting a few new ones. I'm completely exhausted. No wonder my kids don't want to get their homework out of the way right when they walk in the door.
Alphonse Mucha
So - since it's almost time for the rest of the troops to come in and get food before we rush off to various sports - today's baby step is very small.
Choose a piece of art you love. Look at it.
Analyze what it is about it that you love.
Mucha? I love, love, love his use of pattern, the sinuous lines hat lead the eye on a journey up and around and back again. In the print above, there is a repetition of the round shape and the organic but angular branching forms.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quilting Arts Gifts!

Have you seen it yet?
This year's issue of
 Quilting Arts Gifts
is on the news stands now. Wait - is there still such a thing as a news stand?
Nevermind - you can get your copy here.
I have a lovely little project included - showing you how to make a silk art scarf with a beaded fringe. Let me know if you like it. And - there is also an advertisement for my DVD, Bead It Like You Mean It with as special price for QA readers.

You might also like some of the tutorials here on this blog - check them out under the link up there under the header. It says "tutorials." 

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

Remember what we've done so far? Cleaned off a spot or two, made a list, picked out a photo for inspiration...
Let's get just a little more specific today. Pick a work in progress, or something you'd like to start. Make a list of all the little steps that need to be done. Break it down to tiny bite sized pieces. Get the first thing ready to work on. If you get the urge and keep on going with it today, make sure to leave the next step out and ready to go for tomorrow.
Today so far I've looked at my possible entry deadlines (you can see a pretty full list of calls for entry on my website here.) I've chosen a show, ARTQUILTSwater that I want to be a part of and think I can manage. That's only because I've already got something in the works that will fit the theme. My list starts - iron cloth, find image to layer, pull out projector, mark image, find batting. Today I might have time to iron.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

Today has been a very busy day with appointments that have kept me away from the studio. So what to do?

Frame added with Snapseed - but otherwise unedited.
While I was waiting for my appointments I pulled out my iphone, which I personally believe is one of the funnest toys and most useful tools ever invented. I always have photos on it so I pulled up Snapseed - a digital editing app - and played around.
Today's baby step into creativity
find a "to-go" project

Boosted contrast, used center focus to darken the outer edges, added a frame.
If you have something ready to go you won't waste time while you sitting and waiting, or while watching the television or riding in the car. I have several on-going "to-go" projects. My attention span is short so I only work on them occasionally and they can end up taking years to complete. That's fine. The point is just to have something, anything, to work on. Take a sketchbook and fill it up with drawings of your hand. Fill a candy tin with beads and a little bit of cloth and sew them on. Hand embroidery works well too.

Can't remember - maybe it was the "vintage" filers that I played with - a little added texture. The sky really was that blue though - beautiful day!
See you next week. Be creative!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

"Begin at the beginning... and go on till you come to the end: then stop." Lewis Carroll
Remember that list you made last week? Look at it an choose one thing from it.
Now DO IT!
Today I signed up for life drawing sessions.
The only way to get better at something is to keep doing it. 

On-Line Class: Freeform Screenprinting

Registration is open for one of my favorite classes over at
four lessons, one opening each week beginning September 14th


  • Lesson One
  • Preparing your materials and workspace
  • The mechanics of printing
  • Paper stencil screens
  • Lesson Two
  • Found materials and other resists
  • Finger blending
  • Plastic stencil screens
  • Bonus - discharge printing
  • Lesson Three
  • Flour paste screens
  • Preparing images for Thermofax screens
  • Printing with Thermofax screens
  • Printing yardage
  • Lesson Four
  • Cheap and easy home-made frames
  • Glue and paint screens
  • Spray paint screens
  • Bonus - drawing fluid and filler

The class will be open for almost seven weeks. 
An extra week is built in before one of the lessons to let you order or create your own Thermofax screen. 

Beginning experiments by Charlotte Robinson

I'll be checking into the class forum each day to answer any and all questions you might have.

Layered prints by Maggie Birchenough

I've got to say that Quilt University is one of the best deals out there. $37 for four lessons and that much of my time is an absolute steal!

Stencilled screen by Sue Price

We'll have a ton of fun - and best of all, you don't have to haul stuff anywhere!

Screened discharge with a tape resist by Elizabeth Gobson

I hope to see you there!
sign up at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

How is it going so far? I've been trying out these baby steps in and effort to stop wasting so much of my time. On some days it's working and some - not so much. I'm so easily distracted. Yesterday I did my one thing and then immediately veered off in another direction. Today I will do better.
Today's Baby Step - Find a pile and put it away.

 Mine's a big one. Problem is most of it doesn't have a home. The fun part is that I'm sure something in there will say - oh wait - PLAY with me now!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Honor of September 11th

We are
No matter where we came from
No matter what name we give Him

For the full story of the creation of this piece - visit my website here.

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

The weather has turned - from hot and sweaty to crisp and blue and... it's just my FAVORITE!!!!
So there is no way I'm staying inside today. I might even do some long neglected weeding.
So today my creative prompt needs to take me outside. You? Stay in or go out at your pleasure.
Right now - pick up a pencil. Draw something.
I just had to be outside so I found a bloom. And a really cool radial pattern of leaves. Nature has amazing patterns to look at, be inspired by, draw.

Draw a weed. Draw a rubber band. Draw a sock or a shoe piled on the floor.
Just do it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

Welcome back - did you have a lovely weekend? I did. I played Dominoes with the family, spent three hours shopping an annual closet sale at my very favorite clothing boutique*, successfully fought off the flu, and had a nap. I really like having a little time off every now and then.

So now it's time to get back into the studio.
Here is a little baby step kind of push to help you (and mostly ME) to get there.

Go find one tool or gadget or supply that you haven't used yet and do something with it.
(I know you have it.)

I've had this set of Tombo Dual Brush Pens for several months, have carried it along on two trips - and still haven't used it. 

 So I opened them up and worked on played around with a sketchbook page. 

I got them to play with the blendable aspect - and haven't done that yet.

If you are following along I'd love to hear about it.
Are you finding that once you start you keep going for a little bit? Is it only me that has the little character flaw that makes it so hard for me to just START something - especially when I have a deadline.

* If you live anywhere near Cary, NC and like funky clothes Possibilities is worth the drive. I hate shopping. I save up my whole budget and use it up all at once here. The sale is amazing with several thousand pieces of new or gently used clothing and a crowd of women sharing racks and mirrors. You freely give and receive opinions, you hand over the piece you just tried on but aren't going to get to the person next to you and you make a lot of new friends. (Hi Brie!) I might have to go back today.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

There is no such thing as a long piece of work, except one that you dare not start. ~Charles Baudelaire~

Today's baby step
paint a background (or several) in a sketchbook

Drip some watercolors or splash on some acrylics.

You don't have to do anything else with it now but it might just spark something. 
Just being in the room or that certain creative space in your head might be enough to make you pick up another paintbrush or a needle and floss or turn on your sewing machine.
I got into it just enough to pick up a sharpie and scribble out some words on the page. Who knows what it will become? Not me. Most of the time it is creativity for the fun of it when I'm working in a sketchbook. Work. Play. Same thing.

What have your baby steps been this week?
What have they led to?

After a crash and burn summer I'm getting to the space in my head where I can start some real projects again. Baby steps work.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

"Those who will not start, will never finish." Jack Adams

Take a baby step into your creative place - 
Right now - MAKE A LIST
It can be a big list - your goals for this week, this year, the next ten.
Or it can be small - one thing you want to get do and all the steps to do it.
Now turn off the computer and go do the first thing. (yes, I'm talking to myself here.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

Take a baby step - into your creative place.
Right now - 
switch over to your photo files and choose one image that inspires you.

I found this vintage letter at Flickr Creative Commons, a great place for copyright free images. I think I'll punch it up a bit and make a new thermofax screen for my shop. I have a tutorial for working with photos to prepare them for thermofax images here.

If your files are anything like mine they are a mess. I can never find the photo I want because I end up just dumping the whole card to make space on my camera. I don't often take the time to sort. So if you gain a little momentum once you've taken that first step, go ahead and organize a file or two.

For Your Inspiration: Seagrove Pottery

Turn and Burn Pottery
Seagrove is a beautiful rural town, right in the middle of North Carolina. It's half way between Charlotte and Raleigh, out of everybody's way but well worth a trip. Because of it's abundant and diverse clay deposits it has been a center of pottery since before europeans arrived on the continent. 
Eck McCannles Pottery

My mother was a potter and I remember playing around on the kick-wheel in the basement. One of us would sit on the kick-wheel underneath while another would spin the wheel on top. She also made beautiful work and will be again as soon as her shed is finished. I love pottery.

When you visit Seagrove you can stop by the NC Pottery Center and see samples of potters' work and pick up a map and plan your studio visits. Or you can drive around and stop at whichever place captures your fancy. It feels like every other building is a pottery studio. After the first hour we could go in a place and know in a few seconds if we wanted to spend any more time there.

And then... we happened on Eck McCannles' gallery.
Eck McCanless Pottery
I think I fell in love. He layers four different colors of clay then throws the pot, lets it mostly harden, then carves to reveal the most amazing patterns. I only came home with a few little mugs. As much as I wanted the vases and plates I don't have anywhere kid-safe to keep them yet.

 Works by Eck McCanless

I couldn't help buying these tea mugs either. Even though the artist is not from NC they just sang to my heart.
John Bandurchin
John Bandurchin

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Creative Wisdom: Baby Steps

And so we begin. Each weekday this month I'm going to post a little prompt - some tiny thing you and I can do to begin the creative process. 

Today: turn off the computer, go into your space and clear off a surface...
even part of a surface will do.

I started with this - which was the easiest pile to attack in my much neglected studio.
I sorted papers and put things away and found the little stack from the vintage style candy store we visited in Philly this summer. I intended to glue them into something for a collage.

 So instead of putting them into another pile, I did.

It might be different for you, but the beginning of any creative process for me requires clearing out space. I am by no means a neat-freak, in fact I'm something of a disaster when it comes to housekeeping. But I find it difficult to work in a cluttered environment and find myself getting frustrated when I have to step over things and can't find what I'm looking for. I'm well used to distractions from my kids while I'm working - I don't need any more from my creative environment. It's a good beginning.

Then I looked over and just kept going for a minute. I had to move the ironing board and Brunhilda, my dress form out of the way to even reach this foot high stack that I've been ignoring for months. 

This bit of wisdom comes from Susan Simonson (of Arusha, Tanzania)

"You are far too young to remember the movie “What about Bob?” which starred Richard Dreyfus as a psychiatrist and Bill Murray as an emotionally dependent patient.  “Bob” the patient, could not let go of his need to see his doctor, who, in a moment of exasperation, told him to just take ‘Baby Steps’.  Baby Steps are hard to initiate, very wobbly, often directionless, and one is prone to end up on one’s face in the dirt.  But each Baby Step, in and of itself, is a HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT, if only because one did it!

So whenever I am faced with something that seems too new, too overwhelming, too impossible to envision the end result, then I ‘give myself permission’ to just take a Baby Step.  The accomplishment comes from just lifting one foot off of the ground, one line drawn on paper, one seam sewn, one magic moment of thought; no more, no less; and I can say “I did it!”

The rest comes with practise, hard work and effort.  But at the moment of each Baby Step, that is inconsequential, which is the great thing about Baby Steps. "

Well. I was quite flattered that she thought I was so young. Hey, I'm old enough to remember that I saw it and to know I've forgotten all the details. 

Nautilus by Sue Price in Freeform Screen Printing
Susan has taken some of my on-line classes at My class, Freeform Screen Printing is currently open for registration and begins September 14.