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Welcome All in 2012!!!

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Custom Work Update… & Where’s Victoria appearing…..

As the threads roll, I thought you all might like to see the Mo as he is developing… Our beloved Akita — we still miss him, but this memorial is REALLY starting to shine!!

I began with a photo & used that to create a graphite sketch on cotton:

 

Next, I began defining some of the prominent shadows and light…

One of the most important aspects of this kind of heavily layered embroidery is to first stitch a good base so that, as I start filling in defining details, the “fur” develops in a natural and realistic way.

Using single threads over both pencil and ink, I can mark a really helpful “map” for where the stitches need to go.

It’s a very intuitive process, much like sketching or painting… Which is probably why this kind of embroidery is often called “thread painting”  (though the term often refers to machine not hand stitching).

For me, I find the creative act of finding lines very interesting and really get lost in it for hours as I select colors to compliment and inform each other and then choose where they should be placed.

This is a VERY forgiving technique — if a stitch or stitches seem wrong, I can easily remove or stitch over them. Ultimately, it’s trial & error. repeat, repeat!

At this stage, I’m about 30 hours into the project, using 19 colors.  This is where it really gets fun, because now I start adding dimension. First, the bridge of the nose, the prominent brow ridge, and the muzzle.

I’ve also put a lot of work into the eye (Mo had great green eyes so that will be fun to do!)

Over the next few days, I’ll fill in more fur on the neck and face, and begin the ears.

 

In the mean time, I’m preparing for the workshop I’m teaching for MoFA at the Conference in Tan TarA next weekend. We’ll be experimenting in Liquitex Effects gels in my “Mixed Media Stitch Lab”.

For those of you who remember my gallery show at the Campanella in 2009, you may recall my piece ‘the Roots at Dusk’. It will be delivered & installed at the KC Art Institute North campus gallery for a 6 week show of faculty works opening May 18 at 5pm.  If you’re curious about how one works 110,000 stitches over 12 square feet, Visit the Roots Diary & then come out & see!!

In other news: if you want to visit me WITH the Root, I’ll be at Maker Faire KC on June 23 & 24 at Union Station!!! I’ll ALSO have the Womandrake there… AND Mo the Akita… now THAT’s worth coming out for!!

For my local students, don’t forget to visit the class schedule page to see what’s on for both adults & kids in May & June… LOTS of cool projects! See you around!!!

 

Cancer Can’t Take Memories Journal™ Project – Rise to Meet Your Goals

As Ive been cleaning cyber-house, I’ve also been developing new projects and workshops.

The Rock Star of the news is my: Cancer Can’t Take Memories Journal™ Project I’m working on teaming up with Cancer Action KC to launch a doozy of a workshop — & I am SO proud of this one — it’s going to be a great resource (and I think a really successful project!).  In keeping with my quest to bring people to explore their creativity, the CCTMJ project will allow me to work with ANYONE who wants to dive into journaling or sketchbooking to preserve memories for future generations, honor a loved one, or just learn to unpack their mental clutter on the page in a creative environment.

Workshop wise- I’ve had a blast developing Moe the Cat into a tutorial on what’s called Needle Painting (it’s the layered long-and-short stitching technique used to achieve a realistic painted look — like fur).  I’ve just got one stripe & his tufty whiskers to finish him up. He will be going to his home this weekend & I just couldn’t be prouder of the results:

I had NO idea what I was getting in to when I decided to work him as a dimensional portrait– but I’m SURE glad I did. He really pushed me to challenge myself & learn something completely new.

In the mean time, You know to visit the NEW Schoolhouse for local workshops booking through August 2012, and I’ll post here as soon as the new online sections roll out (in the next couple of weeks)

We’ve got a month to go until I launch the Mixed Media Lab in Tan TarA at the MO Fiber Artist’s Conference, so visit the MoFA 2012 workshop.

Exhibitionally speaking: I’ve just sent my confirmation to show the Roots at Dusk in the 2012 Kansas City Art Institute Faculty Show May 18 through July 26 (woohoo!). I’m looking forward to having it out in public after its’ 2009 debut. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Diary of the Roots, you might take a look — it’s 110,000 stitches & took about 14months to complete. It’s a great example of working a large project on a deadline!

Don’t forget to check in on Sinister Stitch – it’s updated & STILLLL growing!

See you in the studio!

 

 

The Zone of the StitchTangle and Other Needle Wisdom

 

Ever wonder what it would be like if you just let your needle GO and do what it wants? What if you just thread up, zone out, and float on a river of repetitive stitching motion? That’s just what I’ve been doing as I create the samples for the workshop at MoFA (Missouri Fiber Artists) conference May 18. We’ll be experimenting in mixed media using Liquitex effects gels and embroidery so I’ve just enjoyed the opportunity to play and see what I get… For information, visit the MoFA 2012 workshop.

As I work these abstract exercises, I can’t help but think of the wildly addictive Zen Tangle exercises — Explore Zen Tangles and then consider the possibilities for StitchTangles… replacing pen with needle and see where it leads….

So…What’s new around here… You may notice a few changes in the design and an organization of information — all to make it easier for students to see what’s on & what’s coming up. Enjoy a look around….

If you’re ready to get BUSY, Visit the NEW Schoolhouse to find out where I’ll be teaching… Jewelry, Embroidery, Painting and MORE… I’m booking through August with more on the way so if you’re local & wanting a class or private party, OR if you want to get me online, I’m heeerre!!

Also don’t miss the new feature: Commissions to get a glimpse of what my needle has been up to… Is that Cat the COOLest, or what???  Next, I’m tackling a horse, a traditional dress from Afghanistan, a crazy quilt, and MORE!!

Now you have to ask yourself: are YOU exploring your creativity?  Need a boost? Visit Channeling Your Inner Warrior of Intention and let’s just SEE what shows up to play….

Thanks for stopping by!!

SEEing – Embrace the Gift of Opening the Creative Eye

It’s officially the second half of the online sessions for Mixed Media Embroidered Journal and students from every corner of the globe are partying with their sketchbooks and journals. It is truly a wonderful thing to see all the experiments and curiosity that are afoot!

(Quick Advertisement: If you’re ready to take the plunge:  ***For the online series registration Visit the Schoolhouse To get the ‘What’s On’ email or to book me locally, Email: victoria@freedomofstitch.com.  Don’t forget to subscribe at the right so you get the Freedom of Stitch muse visiting YOUR inbox (about every 3-4 weeks).   If you’re local to Missouri — registration for the MO Fiber Artists Conference in Tan TarA MO is OPEN!!! Check it out & come play with me in the Mixed Media Lab for Fiber Artists!!)

So, In the online Mixed Media Stitch online series, students began on the theme ‘Nests and Trees’, Sandy from LaCenter is working toward something really special. We’ve explored Thread Salad and the ways of working with fiber in a dimensional way. At left, her work-in-progress nails the idea! (follow the Flickr link below to see more student work)

As we continue to consider the possibilities of working on paper, fabric, and even such non-traditional surfaces as window screen, the creativity if just bursting–  Which brings me to the question: Are YOU seeing with your creative eye?

If you are in the habit of moving through a day without exercising your creative vision then, hey bub, you’re MISSING out!! There is NO time like the present to get away from auto pilot seeing, break out of visual apathy, banish end-result finish line focus and be truly IN your journey from place to place, thought to thought.

How do I do this, you ask? EASY!  Look not for results, or satisfaction… or finishing the piece. Look, instead, at “what is”… Look for specifics like breathing in the smells at a particular moment, naming them to yourself, thinking of what they remind you of…  or, really LOOK at the textures in front of you.  Like these seed stitches wrapped with satin floss…  Try to recall at least TWO things that have those same textures or shapes in them…  By taking note of what’s right in front of you, and then relating it to something you remember or imagine, you’re forcing your creative eye to OPEN and EXPERIENCE with all of its might…

Students in the local Mixed Media Lab did just this when we began experimenting on Monday:

I started the night off with rubbings taken from my collection of pressed flowers. Using charcoal, soft pastel, graphite, and wax crayon, the artists really got into the possibilities of taking their time to develop a good result.  The room went silent as everyone focused their creative eye on technique, trying different pressures and approaches to capture the best lines. As each rubbing was layered and revealed, we were inspired to try each others flowers for different results.

It was also fun to combine materials — layering soft pastel over wax crayon was very effective.  We then used watercolor crayon dry, then worked back into it right on the paper or fabric with a wet paintbrush. The results were a very impressionistic painterly effect.  Overall, rubbings were a great success and produced lots of diverse background papers and fabrics to be used later.

After that, we shifted into paints — specifically Lumiere iridescent paint and craft acrylics.  Using folding and dipping, brushing and dyeing, we created custom dyed papers and tissues as layering elements for future work.

The coolest part was seeing the students explore new and different ways of mark making and pattern-ing with paint and paper or fabric.

Overall, it was a GREAT success.

As the artists began collecting their treasures, packing up supplies & hugging goodbye, I was reminded THIS is why I do what I do — creating a space for people to let their creativity run free is a cornerstone of MY being fulfilled. There is no comparison to the gasp or “a ha” moment when a student breaks through hesitation or doubt to realize BAM- I CREATED THAT!!!

I love sparking that fire of satisfaction in a self proclaimed “mess maker” — or better the “I am SO not creative” type.  I LOVE proving doubters absolutely WRONG, and setting them on a journey of discovery that can last a lifetime. Giving the gift of opening their creative eye. For me, THAT’s the work I am here to do…

Over in formal painting this week — I was lucky enough to have my work cut out for me:

 

While I demonstrated craft acrylics on a red sunflower, each student had their own flower or fruit to create.

Just watching them get into the groove of moving paint around the canvas to create texture in the strokes, or to experiment with shading and shadow is SO exhilarating!!

And, then, sharing the moment when the creative eye opens wide and with new confidence a student  rushes forward with certainty — choosing THIS line, or THAT color — is one of my greatest pleasures.  It’s experiencing the absolute certainty that you have manifested your own path successfully. Job done.

So-

what do YOU want to manifest?

are you SEEing with your creative eye?

It’s time to GET BUSY, get FOCUSED, make a creative space…  and then SEE what shows up to play…

 

For a refresher, Visit the post on 3 inspirations including changing your location — strange spaces lure the eyes out to explore and play…

And remember: the online Mixed Media Stitched Journal class is only 1/2 way along, so it’s certainly NOT too late to jump in and explore something new! Visit the write up and see what others have said at the launch, then JUMP in with us!  Our little group spans the globe in every corner from Denmark to Australia, from Ohio to Wales — It’s certainly a one-of-a-kind group!

Need a visual boost? Visit the new Fearless Stitchers Gallery & Boneyard on Flickr. My students are sharing everything from works-in-progress to finished pieces.  While you’re there, check out the Mixed Media Embroidery Gallery which is now over 3500 works strong (!!!)

In the meantime, I’ll be writing a new online series of workshops, editing the Studio Sessions, and begin filming again on the Sinister Stitch Chronicles documentary of the Sinister project!! The dear Womandrake is getting a little testy from neglect so it’s time to show her some love!

If you’re new here – visit the Sinister stitch diaries to get the scoop — you can also visit FreedomOfStitchTube at YouTube and catch the first 3 episodes of the Chronicles which lay the base for the full length documentary (coming in 2013).

*whew* Now, YOU get busy & give yourself the gift of creative vision — see you in the studio!!

 

 

***For the online series registration  Visit the Schoolhouse To book me locally, Email: victoria@freedomofstitch.com

If you’re local to Missouri — registration for the MO Fiber Artists Conference in Tan TarA MO is OPEN!!! Check it out & come play with me in the Mixed Media Lab for Fiber Artists!!

3 Ways to Boost Creativity — & What’s Happenin in Mixed Media Lab class…

Whether your creative urges have given way to the winter blues or spring fever, there are a few tricks I can always count on to BOOST my Muse up out of her comfy chair and into ACTION where she belongs.

These little tricks were brought into SHARP focus last night as I launched a 4 session Mixed Media Stitch Lab series locally but first a reminder:

Dont forget: the OnLine version will begin launch again in Fall 2012

Visit FAMM to investigate

Overheard in the classroom: “This is SO important… to just recharge and learn some new techniques…”

“Victoria, I can’t even listen right now, I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS GOING THROUGH MY HEAD!”

“EVERYONE should be in this class… you’ve just reminded me to make time to play and learn — THANK YOU!”

(And THAT was just our first session!!) Of course, it helps to have GREAT students!!

So,  When I arrived, one of the workshoppers met me outside the building, navigated me through the old parking structure. We snaked past long forgotten signage and crumbling brickwork to park and seek out the elevators. Lined with glass on one side, you could watch the outdoors during your ascent…   Once on our floor, she guided me into and around the labyrinth that is in one of our long time local businesses. Everywhere I looked, there were interesting architectural elements like art deco windows and lofted balconies. Walls of glass reflected totem poles from within the woodshop and studio workspaces beckoned from behind half closed doors…..  I was thrilled with the sights, and the smell of carved wood was an exotic contrast to the very civilized work space.

CREATIVITY BOOST #1: GO SOMEWHERE NEW  AND PAY ATTENTION!!!!

It’s so easy to forget that too often we spend our time in the same places doing the same things… It becomes all too easy to focus inward and miss what’s around us. So… STOP IT!!

Whether you’re in a shlump or just need to clear your mind, the energy of navigating somewhere unfamiliar is refreshing if you open yourself and say YES to the possibilities. Challenge yourself to capture ONE interesting feature… ONE peculiar observation… ONE thing out of place… All of these perceptions have the potential to turn into something refreshing and satisfying of you SEE.

As we dove right in to the specifics of a Gel Medium Transfer, I had another jolt of Creative Mojo: CREATIVITY BOOST #2: YOU DON’T REALLY SEE SOMETHING UNTIL YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN IT!!

One of my favorite aspects of teaching is that student curiosity never fails to push me to make new discoveries. Whether they see a new possibility in a tool, or they create a twist on one of my techniques, share what you know to learn more about it yourself! It works especially well with beginners — they are full of wonder and possibility, and often jump right in to an exercise which spawns rapid fire Q & A between us. And, with the seasoned artist or crafter… their experience PUSHes me to rise…  It’s one of the best dances EVER!!  Very. Cool.

The hours flew by as we painted, glued, collaged and really immersed ourselves in the simple act of creating.  It was a beautiful thing as the experiments gave way to confidence and collages were born:

CREATIVE BOOST #3: PLAY!! It doesn’t matter if you practice the arts of paint, fiber, or clay, or the arts of medicine or business– we all need the freedom of play to recharge our inner battery!! As the workshoppers let go of perfection and direction, and instead allowed the fluid paint and water, the a-HA of a found image and the happy accident on the page to lead them, we all found ourselves laughing, sharing, and deeply enjoying the journey, without worrying about our destination…. Now THATs time well spent!

We wrapped up our night appropriately with Hand Embroidery 101: Straight & Seed stitches for Mark Making with Wrapping as dimensional element. I love watching the collective imagination light up when I start prompting with stitch possibility: Like wrapping… or weaving… or cutting apart… The oooooohs and aaaaahs were like food as we delighted in eachother’s discoveries.

Working into the 9:00 hour(!!) we packed up our supplies and headed back to our own worlds, each fortified by the Creative Space we had conjured together…

I. Am. So. Lucky.

 

Overheard in the classroom: “This is SO important… to just recharge and learn some new techniques…”

“Victoria, I can’t even listen right now, YOU HAVE SO MANY IDEAS GOING THROUGH MY HEAD!”

“EVERYONE should be in this class… you’ve just reminded me to make time to play and learn — THANK YOU!”

If you’re ready to take the plunge: JOIN US!!!!

Dont forget: Local & online workshops are simmering. Visit the JoAnn schedule for local bookings and the FAMM schedule for online goodies!

See ya!

 

 

It’s time to jam with your uncertainty, get clean, & dive into a book project!!

It happens to all of us – we begin to pursue our creative urges and… BAM! the imp of doubt & uncertainty uncorks its ugly smirk.

Cue questioning your artistic worth… cue second guessing the value of your creativity…  And then, if you aren’t prepared for the battle… witness the beginning of your wicked uncertainty spiral into discouragement, or worse, giving up.

It’s an ugly scenario. but I see it in students, professionals, and everyone in between.  To this I say HAVE FAITH!  You must train yourself to believe deep down in your bones that creativity is a circle… that, wherever you find yourself in the swing of its cycle, you WILL come back around to inspiration, movement, progress… IF you can just hang on.

Now, how about YOU?? Do yo have something to push you through these darker months (though most days, it’s been a BIZARRE 50+ degrees here in Missouri). Consider a book project. We’re revving up for the Feb 4 launch of The Mixed Media Stitched Journal online workshop – come with us & let’s paint, stitch, embellish, and be INSPIRED by all things creative.

Explore Class& Read Reviews Then simply click Schoolhouse to sign up! (See some of my pages below…)

As I edit the Fearless Studio Sessions final form and begin the journey toward the launch, I too am susceptible to doubt, uncertainty, overwhelm… But let me share a secret: with any project, large or small, the real key to sticking with it is to simply find ONE thread through Just find one inspiring thing that allows you to grab your inspiration — enough to stick with it.  The threads may change, but if you can just hold one aspect in your focus, it WILL make the difference between hanging in to glory or bailing out to failure.  So… let’s talk threads.

One of my tried and true threads through creative challenges is to CLEAN! I don’t care how passionate you are about your piles and disorder… STRAIGHTEN UP!

You will be amazed at what fresh ideas come if you simply give them a space to come to. Begin every creative experience with a clean surface & you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get started. You may find the having a clear area in front of you just DRIVES you to fill it up!! THAT is when ideas start flowing. Maybe… you get a NEW BOOK!!!

 

 

 

Strike out on your own, or join us in the Journal class…

In the Fearless Studio Sessions, I give a lot of prompts for getting started: In Text as Art, in Creativity & Inspiration… but one sure thing is give your muse SPACE and then see what happens.

Speaking of the Sessions: we’ve wrapped filming the 24 major episodes with 2 extras in each one.  The final steps are things like filling in b-roll footage, adding visuals over the green screen segments, and finishing the credits.  It’s definitely becoming an easier process as I work through — but certainly more complex than I imagined.  I’m taking my time and enjoying the journey, really allowing myself to be mindful that I’m REALLY doing this!! It’s at once exhilarating, terrifying, thrilling, & frustrating… but I wouldn’t trade it. All along the way, I’m journaling…

Saving ideas… Harnessing inspiration…

I’m also taking this new year opportunity to overhaul my health.  Something about being cancer free for a whole year has given me a laser focus on what’s important: I want to give my body exactly what it needs to continue recovering and to fight the battles it needs to… WITHOUT my bad habits in the way. I haven’t had coffee in over a year (never miss it) and instead drink jasmine or peach green tea.  Just that change has put me in a much more balanced state. Next, I’ve begun a seriously plant based diet I start the day with a fresh blended green smoothie: kale, cucumber, pear, mustard greens (which make it all hot & spicy!), spinach, apple… you name it! It is absolutely the creamiest energy boost to blast into my workday.  I’ll post more on this soon…  but for now, let’s all tackle the new year seeing our goals with new eyes: the eyes of MAKING SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPEN!!

I’ll see you in the studio!!

 

 

Workshop OnLine is LAUNCHED!!

After the huge success of the weekend workshop in St Louis: Creating a Fiber Artist’s Grimoire… I’ve REtooled the book class and am launching SignUps in the next few days!

Mixed Media Stitched Journal

Every journey should begin with a map… The Mixed Media Stitched Journal is YOUR map to beginning your own garden journey. With over 150 pages of prompts, how-to’s, inspiration, and projects, you can set your imagination free using themes such as “Nests & Trees”, “Critters & Crawlies”, “Wee Folk & Winged Things”…. and more.

Sign up Jan 4 through March 25, 2012, $75

Full description & Sign up:  Visit Schoolhouse

Together, we’ll explore ways of working on both fabric and paper to begin your journal. Using techniques to lay a base such as coffee dye, watercolor crayon, stamping, stencils, and transfers, you’ll begin designing a surface for your creations. Using patterns, sketches, collage, and plenty of creativity, you will add life to your journal. Work at your own pace and explore the possibilities of capturing nature for your very own book!! All skill levels welcome

Want to see what the MO Fiber Artist workshoppers had to say about THEIR Garden Book Class?

Janet Wade of the Missouri Fiber Artists says: “I have been in the art world for 30 years, attending many workshops and have taught in a gallery covering a span of 15 years and I think that your style of teaching the best kind.  You are open to questions…  while you shared with us your work, your favorite books, your patterns and your methods.

The workshop covered a lot of techniques and the manner in which you presented that information allowed hands on experimentation and exploration.” (Janet & I at Speaking of Fibers 2011 where her alterpiece took Best in Show!!)

(MOFA workshoppers learning to stitch in their Garden Books with french knots using DMC Memory Thread )

Visit more from the workshop at the MOFA Conference 2012 sign up page (& if you’re local, JOIN ME in Tan TarA in May!!)

Kacey Cowdery says:  ” mixing structure, creativity and encouragement Victoria provided us with patterns which we could use to any degree our artists’ desire. You should have seen what we did with our birds nest patterns. Generosity is her other middle name. We kept our focus, got our projects completed, and were eager for the next lesson.  When you get a chance to take Victoria’s workshop, you will not be sorry, just DO IT.”

Check out some of their work:

Pat Owoc created a gorgeous Mandrake using papers, fibers, and LOTS of imagination!

 

Also see:

Nest

Bird Girl (Carlene Fullerton), and watercolor freestyle (Shirley Nachtrieb).

 

Now… YOU get signed up and let’s GARDEN!!!

The Delicious Momentum of Getting What You Want… & Giving DOUBLE Back!!

I can’t even express the thunderous monster of gratitude that I am walking around with… and ALL the ways I want to return it!

Let me tell the story…  After being contacted by the MO Fiber Artist’s to serve as juror over their exhibit Speaking of Fibers, I was just stunned for a few days. There’s just something about when the Universe says “YES! You ARE on the right path… and here’s another signpost…” Which is exactly what that gig was. And more than just the job of choosing from the AMAZING artwork of the members to fill the Maryville University gallery (in St Louis MO), I was invited to exhibit my own piece: the Womandrake. I had a GREAT time as juror, and the Womandrake had her SECOND coming out (she’ll be deployed throughout 2012 as I continue to work the Sinister Stitch pieces for the Sinister Circus Exhibit, and the Documentary in Chronicles).

Anyway…After choosing the gorgeous artwork for Speaking of Fibers, I hunkered down to get the Womandrake to half finished for her stint. Job Done! I loaded her into the Little Red Wagon: and drove VERRRY carefully straight to the St Louis Maryville U campus where I had some repairs — see, the handmade paper leaves had disintegrated during the drive (eeeeek) but I had a whole day to fix her up…

John (the Gallery curator) took special care to display my baby perfectly!I was SO proud to hang her on the wall and see her hold her space beautifully alongside the Mandrake.

 

That was the first leg of the trip…

The second kicked off with an AMAZING opportunity:I was invited to give remarks at the Opening Reception for Speaking of Fibers. See, after I made my choices for the show, I forwarded all of my comments to the coordinator (the INcomparable Barb Zappulla pictured below with me & Womandrake) and she forwarded each of those comments to both the “accepted” participants, and the “not this time” ones.

Suffice it to say, the WHOLE thing was a SCANDAL!!!!!!!!!  Spoiler Alert: I had gone so far above and beyond what people expected that it instantly went viral and everyone began discussing it — I’ll include my remarks to the reception below so you can experience the full speech I gave;o}

As if the Opening and the Womandrake’s warm reception weren’t enough: I was invited to teach a 2day workshop at the St Louis Artist’s Guild. Nestled in an old brick mansion, it looks like something out of a fairy tale…

I actually squealed when I found out we were holding class in the upper floor space: the women in the attic conjuring a Fiber Artist’s Grimoire!!!

It couldn’t have been more perfect…

I prepared for months and brought my A Game — I packed those 2 days with lots of info and show and tell. I was met with such warmth, such gratitude… and given the company I was in (artists, painters, weavers, crafters….) it was truly humbling to serve those talented women. I’ll post some of their awesome work soon!

It’s been a full week, but the friendships I made are still warming my heart, and the opportunities that came my way makes me want to Stand and Deliver more than ever before. That’s another funny way the Universe has of encouraging you to Go The Distance. To Get It Done. To Serve Without Reserve. And I am so grateful… and energized… and ready to smash the next year OUT of the park!

We’re finally at the brink of what’s been brewing for almost a decade in my studio, my imagination, and my dreams… When I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and tearful trying to meet deadlines last month, I asked: How do I DO this?…. And a dear member of my team replied: Well. Ride her til she bucks you.  Sometimes it’s the simplest thing that snaps us back to our vision and our strengths. With the unfailing support and sanity patrol of my family, it is, indeed, the BEST! Thank you all for joining me on this ride… we’re only at the beginning and it’s going to be DELICIOUS!!

Currently, I’m filming the Fearless Studio Sessions: a digital toolkit for seeing your creativity with new eyes.

I’ll begin posting updates in the coming weeks about what’s coming and how YOU can join in. I’m counting on my entire tribe of artists, crafters, hobbyists, dabblers, and even the curious to check out the Sessions so stay tuned! Dont forget to visit the right sidebar, enter your email to subscribe, and then you won’t miss a thing! Also find me on Facebook and twitter (links in upper left sidebar) I look forward to finding you!

For those who were so kind to ask, I’ve transcribed my lecture on Oct 7,  As promised: Remarks for Speaking of Fibers Opening Reception, October 7, 2011.

When Barb and Carol approached me to Judge the Speaking of Fibers Exhibit, I was immediately intrigued. I teach Text as Art at the KC Art Institute and am very passionate about bringing visual and written arts closer together. In order to best do that, I decided right away that the Artist Statement should be a key component of each submission, so I asked that each artist submit photos and a statement on our theme.

Some of you may know that I just spoke to the students over at the Design School about Artist/Concept Statements, and they were rather surprised to learn about how important it is to be able to speak and write in an articulate way about your work. As I spoke to them, I reflected on my experience with Speaking of Fibers — so many of us artists, crafters, hobbyists, work in solitude, often in stolen moments, but passionately because we want to share something of ourselves. As such, we each want to be SEEN. A great Artist Statement is the perfect opportunity to connect with the viewer, to draw them in closer to your creativity, your choices, and your work. In order to honor and respect the work that had been submitted for Speaking of Fibers, I made my plan carefully. First, I read the Artist Statements. I made notes and reflected on what the art work might look like. Then, I looked at the art work photos; again making notes and imagining which statement might apply. (which I have to say: arriving here and running from piece to piece in person for the first time was like Christmas!) Finally I joined both sets of notes and looked at the whole package together. I made my choices and forwarded the WHOLE PILE to Barb! She was rather,  surprised, and asked if she could forward the remarks to each artist — both the winners and the ones I didn’t include in the show. I felt that was perfect — it was the best way for each submission to understand what my thoughts were, and for me to be “seen” as well. In that the circle was complete. I thought…

What I had done caused QUITE a stir! Apparently it is NOT standard to receive comments from a juror (which I found dreadful!) and the participants began email/Facebooking me like crazy with thanks. I can’t say what a boost it was to get the feedback — again testifying to the value of our Speaking to each other.

Some of you know while I was making my decisions and sitting with this work, I was fighting a battle with kidney cancer (which I won!). More times than I can count, the art on these walls was with me in the quiet night hours when it gave me something to focus on…. Again, I remind all of you that we, as creatives, are often alone, and it’s our shared communication that brings the deepest meaning to what we do!

Tonight, I wanted to share a few comments about the 6 Award Winners — you’ll notice the Artist Statements are hung with the work for you to read.

First Award of Merit: Autumn, by Shirley Nachtrieb.Though it is not loud or boisterous with color, I was struck by the subtle complexity and the controlled exercise of the palette. It really spoke volumes in the combination of salvaged fabrics and jewels. It also drew me in to look closer by combining textures and stitchery… and by having the scarves hanging to organically play off of the bodice colors. Overall, masterful and alive!

In the Contemporary Use of Fibers award, Luann Rimel took me on a creative journey with both her Artist Statement and her rich embroidery over photos. The palette was so clean but textural — and I love the play between past and present, permanence and fleeting time as she described in her statement. Very well done.

For Best Representation of Theme: Janita Loder for Reading is Fun. Her statement gave us a personal look at her inspiration, her use of text boldly invites us in to the piece, and the technique is just masterful.  Not being a weaver, I’m just amazed at the skill!

Best in Show went to Janet Wade for Vespers. What a work! Her Statement spoke honestly to her motivations, her use of symbols, and her materials and techniques! She truly met the challenge of the submission with FLYing colors (and those COOL dragonflys!)

Technical Mastery is Out on a Limb by Peggy Wyman. She told the story of sourcing her materials, communing with nature, and explained her techniques. Just the precision and skill in constructing her objects blew me away.

Surface Design Award goes to Dianne Callahan for Rubys Red Socks. A sweet story and so well done… but this is almost the award that never was! Remember folks, as a juror, I’m looking at the work on a computer. Your job after the planning & design, the art and crafting, and the careful submitting is to not crap out at the finish line!!!!! You’ve GOT to send the best photos you can. I didn’t see ANY of the gorgeous applique, the dimensional stitching, or the surface design in the Ruby photos. It wasn’t til I got here that it popped. Consider a few tips: 1- you get the best photos outside on a clear day. 2- if you cant do that, try scanning. A scanner will pick up AMAZING detail if you’re patient. 3-for dimensional work, lay the piece on a table and photograph it from on your knees, looking ACROSS the table to SHOW me the 3D. 4-choose close ups wisely. They have to represent something special.

I’d like to thank the artists, MOFA, and Maryvill U for being so wonderful during this long journey — I’d certainly go back and do it all again!!!

Man, that Mandrake is sweet!

Thanks to that sassy stitchin vixen over at Urban Threads, the Mandrake has gotten ALL tarted up and is now TRULY multi-media in hand, machine, and digital line art patterns. In response, the Womandrake is tingly and all a-quiver (and currently getting her rooty body worked on).

In other news, I’ve been writing like crazy on the first 24 episodes of the Fearless Studio Sessions and am working on the Living a Creative Life segments which include everything from creativity in the kitchen to wrecking your home with stitchy goodness — THIS is going to be SUCH an adventure!

The Fearless Studio Sessions, season One will roll out November 20 so enter your email in the Right sidebar under my Hard Working Artist photo and hit NOW!! You’ll automatically receive Fearless Studio Session love in your inbox (usually weekly-ish). Dont miss a thing!

Visit the Sinister Stitch Chronicles at FreedomofStitchTube (episodes one through three are waiting…)

Need even MORE?  Visit me as the guest artist teaching mixed media madness using Liquitex String Gel, soft bodied acrylics, and dimensional stitching in the C& T Publishing Wednesday Night Digital Lounge: Go Now!

In the mean time, I’m preparing the Womandrake for her debut at the MO Fiber Artists event Speaking of Fibers (Oct 5-9) in St Louis MO. I’ll be teaching a 2day workshop “A Fiber Artist’s Grimoire: creating a mixed media stitched journal” with the Mandrake as the anchor project, and A FEW SEATS ARE STILL AVAILABLE!! Come on out and party if you want your own Freedom of Stitch full on experience! VisitWorkshopInfo

See you soon!!

 

Artful Liason… come experiment with me!

In the C & T Publishing Wednesday Night Digital Lounge, we’ll be playing in the paint, stringing and pouring the gel medium, and of course stitching ourselves silly! Fearlessly explore soft bodied acrylics on both dry and wet surfaces (fabric AND paper), get mesmerized as we practice my new groovy Stitch Mappery (think Zen Tangles for mixed media embroiderers), and be WOWed as we tackle bugs AND blooms!

And if you can’t make it, THAT’s ok, it’s available for posterity in the Digital Lounge archive. Wink, and job done.

Visit the Wednesday Night Live schedule

This week, I’m also continuing the pre-production on the Fearless Studio Sessions having just lined out the sections on Creativity & Inspiration and an Intro to Mixed Media Surface Design techniques to help YOU drive, capture, and feed your creative endeavors. 

In business news, I’ve set the LLC in motion for Freedom of Stitch, and begun the process of migrating content to the Sessions structure – WOOT WOOT!

In the mean time – don’t forget to visit the Sinister Stitch Chronicles first three episodes for a little art, imagination, and stitch! SEE FreedomOfStitchTube

In final news, I’ll be making an announcement next week regarding the NEW liason for the Mandrake — that’s right: ANOTHER way to make him your very OWN!! He’s been swanking around and will be making a FRESH debut on Sept 1st with a MOST esteemed pattern pusher!! SUCH excitement in the airs…

Take care & I’ll be checking in SOOON!!