Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Time is Here!

When the temperature changes I get a little moody, I am a warm weather girl by nature and could easily live on the beach on a deserted tropical island. But I love Christmas and all that comes with it. I just finished decorating my home inside and out. When I was putting up the twinkle lights on my white picket fence the neighbors walked by and scolded me for being late this year. They said they count on me to bring the holiday feel to the neighborhood when I put up my outside lights. That was so sweet. For 26 years I have been in charge of the outside lighting. Joe usually gets stuck working lots of overtime when the weather turns cold. He works for the gas and electric company. I am pretty mechanical so I love to figure out where to place the cords and how many strands of lights I can get on one extension cord before it blows. Then the thrill of figuring out which loose bulb on the strand is causing all the problems before I give up and just buy a new strand.
I seriously had thoughts of not decorating this year. There is a sad feeling in the world this year. The economy is the worst its been in 50 years. There is greed and evil all over the news. I think the greed makes me the sickest.
Then I remember a story about my grandfather Hopkins. He was a wonderful grandpa. During the depression he owned a grocery store in Decatur, Illinois. It was hard times for everyone but by owning a grocery store my grandfather and his family (my dad) never had to worry about food. But that didn’t stop my grandfather from leaving bags of food on the porches of families in need. He did this all year long. That is just what you do, you think of others. So I did, and then I realized how much I love Christmas. I love the music, I love to decorate, I love sweet family times but most of all I love the meaning of Christmas. I love to know that 2,000 years ago the world was changed because of the birth of a special child in a manger during really hard times. And that is why we have Christmas today.
From my family to yours, have a Merry Christmas and try to remember the true meaning of the season.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Teaching at IQA Houston

It has been a wild few months. I feel like I am just now caught up on my beauty sleep.

I had a manicure and pedicure last week for the first time in years. I all most fell asleep in the chair. I highly recommend the treatment. Next week, I am going to try a facial. I know, what has gotten into me?

Well, I think it’s all this hard work, doing what I love. When you are privilege to be working at what you love, you sometimes forget to stop and take a breath. It’s like I can’t get enough. To be able to create is so thrilling and fun I never want it to end. Joe is anyway reminds me to eat. Probably so I won’t get grouchy at him.

This was the first year teaching at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. What an experience. I walked into the teachers’ lounge that first day and there where all my favorite teachers. To think I was there with them. My teaching supply’s had not arrived yet, because someone was a little busy teaching allover to look at her calendar and get thing sent in time. I knew they would arrive because I had to pay the big bucks to make sure they did arrive in time. The IQA staff was fabulous and so friendly. They helped me with everything. Thank God because I needed it.

Friday was my Cone flower class. It was full with 26 students from all over the world. Wow! Great class, except when I returned from lunch, I left the room key in the door and someone took it. You sign your life away when you get the room key and of course my room I had only one key. After class Peggy and I spent hours digging through the trash tearing the room apart looking for the key. It took us hours. That night I missed the SAQA reception that I had reservation for. This was only the beginning. Late that night about 2 am I hear a lot of noise from the adjoining room. It was Halloween night so that is to be expected. At about 4 am I am awoken again by a loud bang of a door closing and then screaming and banging on my room door. The person was screaming to be let back in his room but had miss took my room for his. his room mate was not waking up. This went on for awhile. He was banging so hard that my door was moving. I was so scared. I called security for assistant. Finely his friend let him in the room where they proceeded to yell at each other for another 10 minutes. It was a great night.

Next day very tired, I waited to be let into my room. Still can’t find the key. I set up the room. Today we are doing a new pattern I design for Houston, the Yellow Daisy. It’s a little more challenging than most patterns, but is so cute. Class is full again with 25 students. As we were getting to know each other and setting up, the “teachers pet” from the next room, comes in and tell me to “keep it down”. They can’t hear in the next room. Funny! But wasn’t she in my class yesterday and had a little attitude with me even then? I tell her to inform the teacher that she may want to speak up a little bit more. I still can’t find that key. Maybe she knows where it is?

Before lunch break I received a visitor to my room. This was the very balls-z woman that told me on Preview night a couple of years ago “That my stitches where S—t.” Not crap, but S--t ! To my face! I won 2 awards’ that year. What more could a girl ask for. She just wanted to come back and inform me that I need a new sewing machine and hoped she hadn't hurt my feeling back then. I told her that when the money tree brings in a new crop of $$$ I will certainly up grade. Not every one that wins at Houston has a fancy machine. Some of us our on a budget and have to earn the money. It seems that everyone just wants to help. I found out later that she also told Hollis Chatelain that her binding was S--t.

Remember the movie with Jack Lemon “The Out of Town-ers”? Well this week I felt like I am now in the sequel called ,"The Out of Towner II." I again had to wait to find someone to lock up the room and was to late and too tired to make the Silver Star banquet. Alex Andersen was receiving her Silver Star. She has had a big impact on my quilting life and yours to. She is the number one quilter that has brought the Art of quilting to the main stream and put a young, hip face on it. It was cool to quilt because Alex. We all owe her a lot, especially me.

So the question is. Should I teach again next year at Houston with all the drama and problems? You bet! It’s the most wonderful quilt show in the world. And if you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s like living inside an art museum and fabric mall for a week. You get to eat, drink and sometimes sleep quilting in all its wonderful forms. Are you kidding!!!!! Yes, I will be back teaching next year.

Oh and by the way, they never found the key and they charged me $50.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Shelburn Museum, Vermont

My family and I just got back from a trip to Vermont.
As my dentist said, while his hands were in my mouth,
"Why Vermont? Do you have family there?"
No, we don't. But in a way, I do. 2 of my quilts have been on display at the Shelburn Museum since May. The show will be over by October. I had to go and see that it was a reality that I was in a real and very noted museum.
I planned the trip for months. Even Matt wanted to come with us. We took the red eye to New York then onto Burlington, Vermont. We stayed at the this adorable place that was better than a bed and breakfast called the Howard Street Guest House. Check it out.

Vermont is so beautiful and green. The houses are so quaint and charming and come in every color, even yellow.

The Shelburn Museum is fascinating with all of its exhibits and collections. When you first arrive you are greeted at the big red barn.
There was a sign on the wall noting all the exhibits on display. There on the sign was a picture of my Pansy quilt and the exhibit I was in.

The museum in in Shelburn, Vermont on Lake Champlain.
It's one the nation's finest and most diverse and unconventional museums of art design and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings on 45 beautiful acres. There is even a Vermont light house, covered bridge and the famous boat, Ticonderoga. The Shelburn also has one of the largest and most noted quilt collections in the world.

This year they where highlighting the special exhibit Mary Cassatt: Friends and Family.
They had planted the grounds with chosen varieties of flowers for the occasion. To go along with the event was a special exhibit of flower quilts, historic and new. That is where my quilts come in. They where shown in the Hat and Fragrance Textile Gallery and Gardens. It was so cool. The next room had Hat Box collections that were to die for.
Next to that was a display of hooked rugs
and needle work samplers.

After we saw where my quilts where, we went over to the Mary Cassatt exhibit. She has always been one of my favorite Impressionist painters. She was also the good friend of Electra Havemeyer Webb's mother, who founded the Shelbune Museum.

I was just staring at her paintings when I hear laughing coming from the next room.
It was Joe and Matt reading a timeline of Mary's life. They both thought it was so funny that she came to a point in her life where her family (like mine) told her that if she was going to be a real artist, she needed to start selling her work and that she was also known for being outspoken and spoke her mind. I didn't see what was so funny.

As I walked around studying her works I realized that my art was in the same museum as Mary Cassatt.
I felt a lump in my throat and tried not to show Matt or Joe that I was starting to get pretty emotional. Then my sweet son came over to me put his big arms around me and told me how proud he is of me.
That was it!
Tears start to fill my eyes, then a security guard, watching all this, started to share a story about the exhibit. "...and that one over there is the first Monet to be brought to the United States." He looked at us funny as I tried to catch my breath. I finally had to tell him that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, because you see, I have 2 of my art quilts here on the same grounds as Mary Cassatt and Monet.
This can't be happening. But it was.
He quickly told the docent and they all made a big fuss that made me want to get out of there real fast.
Joe was making funny jokes about me and my quilts that made everyone laugh.
Matt just gave me those big brown eyes that said he knew how I felt.

Later, I spent about $200 in the gift shop and was able to calm down and felt much better.
It's amazing what a little shopping will do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Market in Portland

Just got back from my first Quilt Market, although I feel like I live at the "market". I couldn't find any Cheetos or Capitan Crunch, just luscious fabric and fresh color everywhere. Now that’s my kind of market.

My creative juices are flowing. I was there doing demos for Martingale (my publisher) and Checker Distributing plus signing my book. I had a wonderful time with the Martingale & Company publishing family. They are the BEST!

We were talking about the great book review I got from Mark Lipinski in Quilter’s Home magazine. Then someone said “do you want to meet him?" Of course I did. Then the Martingale girls grabbed my hand and we ran around the corner. There he was, in all his glory, holding court. It was great. I screamed. He screamed. Kisses flew. It was so fun. I asked him to sign my book. He wrote: well, you will just have to read that for yourself. He's the bomb in the quilting world.
It was wonderful.

I walked up and down each aisle taking it all in. Ifound some new lines that I just love. They are young and fresh and I could have rolled around in their fabric all day.

One was Tanya Whelan, she has a great look with clean colors. Her palate is alot like mine. Another was Tina Givens. So creative and, of course, there was Amy Butler. We went to her schoolhouse presentation after I had done mine. Her husband was there moving fabric around and he reminded me of Joe. I called him Mr. Amy and they both laughed like they had heard that a few times. Joe has always been called Mr. Melinda. Especially when I was designing wallpaper and fabric years ago. You have to be a real man to take that name and he is. Its been 26 years so something must be working.

As I was watching the people, we walked by Amy Butlers booth. You could not get in the place. It was packed. So I stepped back and found a funny shot. There where 3 Mennonite women just examining every little thing in her booth. Even the Mennonite women get this fresh look.

I also met with 2 fabric companies that both said yes to my fabric designs. So maybe you will see me at the next spring market. Keep your fingers crossed.

Got to go. The real market is calling. Mother Hubbard's Cupboards are bare because she was out playing in Portland.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Just Joey and the Family

This is my quilt, Just Joey. It's about the man I love and all his loves and worries. I started this in Mary Lou Wiedman's class at Asilomar in 2004. I got it out the other day to finally finish it. My thought is that if I see it everyday I will finish it. We will see.
It is such a magical quilt. I know why Mary Lou's classes are always full. Something happen to you and your quilts in her class.

My whole family had an opinion about this piece. Other quilts I have made and ask my family, " What do you think?" I get the same pat response: "That great, looks good, when is dinner?"
But not with this quilt. It's a family quilt and the family all has strong feelings about what's going on. Like, "are those shoes, where is the Yellow house?, the computer needs to be a laptop, (we have upgraded since 2004) the goatee looks like a mustache, Dad's arms look like Popeye's." It goes on and on. Maybe that's why it's not done yet. They keep helping.

It been really fun to make a quilt that everyone wants to be a part of. Try it and see what happens in your family. Because no matter how many days I isolate myself in the studio, very self absorbed, because art really is about SELF, I am just a part of a wonderful family. They are the ones who got me here.

Here is the story of Just Joey:

This is Joey. He is a devoted husband and father. It's always raining on Joey even when the sun(Son) is out. He loves to spend time with his son, playing ball with his dog and working on the computer. He reads math books for fun and brews fine beer. He won't let anyone touch his lawn and lives in a beautiful yellow house that he bought for his wife. He is very funny in a warped way and is very much loved by all.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Crying Towel

I have been searching eBay for vintage fabric, like table cloths and linens. I came across this very interesting kitchen towel. Of course I had to buy it. In our family we have a running joke about optimistic me and pessimistic Joe. Joe always teases me that I see things too naively and would trade the house for magic beans (that's wrong?). I always counter that he could be a millionaire and still be worried and see doom and gloom around every corner. He explains that he is just being a realist.

So when I saw this towel I knew it was for my man. I keep it in a kitchen drawer and wave it around when he starts in on one of his the world is doomed rants.

The truth of the matter is that we need opposites in life and in a mate. Joe and I call it sharing the brain, but really its for helping to have a balanced life (even though my right side of the brain is infinitely more developed than his meager left side). We have to work with what we don't have, to be a whole person and a successful artist.

I can’t draw a picture without a piece of paper. I need it even though it is different from my paints or pencils. There are fabric colors that you may never buy or use, but to make the art work, you need them. Even if you don't like them. Many times you have to add the opposite color to make your art balanced and the painting work.

I have never been a fan of yellow. When I first started quilting, my fabric drawers where full of brights and jewel tone fabrics. I stayed away from gold and yellow. This seems funny, coming from a woman who lives in a yellow house (that’s another story for another day). When you are creating a painting, you naturally squirt out all your paint colors. The primary colors go first: red, blue and yellow and then you start mixing. I have never given it a second thought that yellow was on my palate. But when I started quilting or painting with fabric, I found I wasn’t buying yellow fabrics and I needed them. Just like it was paint on my palate.

You are making a conscious choice of fabric selection at the store. It is very easy to get distracted by all the beautiful fabrics and colors. We need to rethink the way we buy fabric for this kind of art quilting. Remind yourself when at the store that what you are doing is buying COLOR for painting, not quilting. The question needs to be If I had to mix it in paint, what
olor would it be? That means you will probably be purchasing the opposite of what you may want or think you need.

When painting with fabric you will need the muted, the ugly, the dull, the too bright and, of course, the extremes in values when building a balanced color palate.

That is why it is so thrilling to make one of my art quilts work. It’s always a surprise what colors I had to use to make it work.


Miss Magic Beans

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Visit to Chico

Just got back from teaching/lecturing in Chico for the Annie Star Quilt Guild.

I also had the opportunity to visit my son, Matt, and his friends at Chico State. Chico is a great place in the middle of northern California. It's like a hidden little jewel. It always blows me away to see these little towns all across California that I have heard of but now get to visit.

To get to our workshop facility we had to drive 25 minutes outside of Chico through miles and miles of beautiful almond orchards. They are all in bloom this time of year and the air smelled so sweet. I also learned that it is pronounced ammond not almond.

So I have to say my husband was right all these years.

I stayed over another night so Matt could take me around and show me the town and his favorite hang out spots. The first place we had to go was his and his father's favorite hamburger joint, Nobbies. They don't take credit cards, cash only. Wow! It was great (and cheap). Best burger ever.

The next morning Matt and Jenny (the cute girlfriend, that I love) took me to their favorite brunch place, Breakfast Buzz. It was a true college hang out. Including a few college guys trying to shake off the hangover from the night before with a champagne brunch.

It was fun to watch the college crowd and be with Matt and Jenny.

Chico has some great eating establishments. We walked around the town and went into a great art store so I could stock up on supplies. I am really glad that Matt is at Chico. He is doing so well.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sand Dunes at Asilomar

I have been to Asilomar 4 times now, 2 times teaching and 2 times as a student. I have never walked through the sand dunes. I always go directly to the beach. This time I spent some time exploring them early one morning before class. They are so peaceful and a little eerie.

As I walked along I saw little these little yellow flowers popping up out of the sand. Someone had come along and put chicken wire cages carefully around each flower. You could find some flowers without cages that must have popped up overnight.

I think they where protecting the flowers from dangerous and ferocious deer that roamed freely along the park grounds. Man doesn't have anything better to do than to protect nature from nature. Something is wrong with this picture. Haven’t they lived side by side for thousands of years? I guess there is always a cause that someone can get all worked up about. I wish that people would get more worked up about saving and protecting children and less about a deer eating a flower they have eaten since the beginning of time.

I did enjoy the flowers, but the chicken wire cages took something away from the experience of walking in nature.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Asilomar in the Fog 2008

Just got home from 5 days of teaching at Asilomar for Empty Spools Seminars. What a beautiful place.

It rained so hard when we were driving there I was a little concerned but the minute we arrived it was a warm 57 degrees and sunny.
Each morning there would be a salty layer of fog sitting just on the shore that would burn off about noon. I forgot how much I love the fog. I took a lot of pictures of the foggy beach, waves and the sand dunes. I love taking foggy pictures of the beach. Fog seems to allow me to see color better. Maybe because I have to put color where there is none.

My class was very challenging this year. I love challenges. I always learn from them but, as for being the teacher I want to be, I have a long way to go.

I think the challenge started on the first night when they called all the faculty up on stage and introduced them one by one. I was already overwhelmed by who was up on stage. Alex Anderson, Sue Benner, Lara Wasilowski, Velda Newman, just to name a few. They usually go alphabetically and when they got to Kirby and Laura Schwarz-Smith I knew someone had passed over my name card. Diana is very organized so I ran up on stage and I made a cute joke about being forgotten. Someone later asked me if we had planned that cute skit (of course we had!) I don't know how Diana can remember everything she has to, because I can't remember my own child's name and I only have one.

My class was made up of beautiful women, all different but so much the same. On the first day we are supposed to start class at 4pm and end at 5pm, even though we only have 1 hour of teaching.

I had 2 students who I knew would be late because of a late arriving flight. They walked into the class and had this serious look on their faces. I thought its because they were late. But later we all found out it was because they had just gone through a hair raising flight, where they dropped about 2,000 feet, swerved to miss something, (God only knows what) while passengers were screaming and crying in fear. The things people will do to be in my class.

But in this class, I had a very interesting young artist that pushed my teaching skills. Every night I would go back to my room and try to figure out her daily questions. “Why do you do that?" "Stop encouraging me, I need criticism.” At first I wondered why she was questioning my technique. I then realized she wanted me to analyze my processes and put descriptive words on how the real artist, ME, does what I do. She was working on a commissioned piece in class, which now I know, was too much to take on when you're learning a new technique. She was also very concerned about wasting fabric and had not brought the right fabric colors for her 2 white flowers. White is very hard to translate, because its not made with all white fabric. The brain knows that they are a white daisy and a calla lily but the picture was taken with yellow light and shadows that
are not white.

It was like she was bringing a horse to a motocross race and wanting me to make it work. My technique is simple. I look at my photos, choose the right colors of fabric for that picture and start creating. As a teacher, I have had to train my students to look closely at their subject matter and the only way I can do that is to walk them through a series of exercises. They don’t really know they are going through this process. It slowly opens their minds and takes the fear away (there is a lot of fear going on) and trains their eye to look closely at the detail. By having them drawing on their picture, making a pattern of that drawing and the process of tracing the shapes in the pattern, by day 3 they have all weaned themselves off the pattern and are using their eyes to look closely at their original photo. My sweet babies .

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Road To California

Joe and I had a great time last weekend at Road to California Show. I was very surprised to win Best In Show for my Monterey at Dusk quilt. Wow!!! And my Romance quilt won a Honorable Mention. There were a lot of wonderful quilts there. It’s weird to take your husband to a quilt show thought. But he survived and so did i. In fact I had a lot of fun having him there.

Mark your calender because the next wonderful show is my own guild show.The Folsom Quilt and Fiber Guilds big show is Feb 1,2,3. It all ways has fantastics quilts and wearable arts. This we are having 3 featured artist. Freddie Moran, Kathy Sandbach and Yvonne Porcela. That one artist and day. You can't get better than that. I will be signing books in the Quilters Corner booth. Come by and say HI.

Yesterday was my first class form the new book. We worked on the coneflower. It’s exciting to see my students master a flower I designed and make it their own. Here are the pictures of their flower. They did a great job can’t wait to see them done.