Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Some of my best quilts came from a group challenge.
This one is called coffee time. The challenge was -------time. I had made the log cabin blocks previously and didn't know what to do with them. I didn't have enough to make a whole quilt--and didn't want to either--so I used them as a border.

This is a family portrait that I did in response to a challenge in ClothPaperScissors magazine. It's a picture of me and my two daughters. Notice how we all a very tall and slim.

Recently the Fabrigos have been talking about challenging each other to do some work on a theme. We haven't really decided on the theme yet---that's the real challenge. But it would be very interesting to see what we could all come up with within parameters. Our styles are very different. Each of us trodding off into a theme could be a lot of fun.

What do you think?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

How to be an Artist When You Can't Draw a Straight Line

                                                                   USE A RULER!!!

Many times, I  have heard the line--"oh I am not an artist! " and I want to reply--why not, why can't you call yourself an artist? What is about calling oneself an artist that is so hard. Do we think that artists are just born that way and if you hadn't picked up the brush and begun making gallery worth work by the time you were four years old that you could never be amongst the great artists?

So here are a few little things that I have learned along the way.

I have been practicing my little mantra "I am an artist" for a while now. I am ready when someone asks   "  and  what do you do, Karen?"
My answer is this. I am an artist. I work in fibre and make colourful, wall hangings. I sell my work in galleries and I lecture and teach."  WOW!!!

So how do you become an artist??
practice, practice practice!

Yes, some people are born with great artistic skills but most artists will tell you that becoming a good artist takes a lot of work. Skills have to be developed, the work has to be done. Mistakes have to be made and solutions have to be created when mistakes happen. Robynne calls mistakes "Happy accidents"
see other peoples work,

You have to do the work.

Learn from other artists. We have not been born in a vacuum. Study how other people make art, then try to incorporate some of it into your own work. It doesn't hurt to copy famous artists work as a beginning of understanding how they did it. Then go on to make your own work. You don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Take lots of workshops with people you admire. Search out work that you like and find workshops that you can take. We are in a wonderful age where we can really find anything we want electronically. How lucky for us that there is such a wealth of information so easily available. Search out other mediums also. I have always been a sewer and a quilter but it wasn't until I took some painting classes that I was able to add an artistic  look to my work. I also have taken weaving and pottery and even sculpture classes. They have all been absorbed and sometimes I see little things that I have learned in these classes emerge in my work.
At Jo's cottage--just having fun

Search out friends. One of the very best things that has happened to me is joining this little fibre arts group--the Fabrigos. We all have different styles, we all work in different ways but we have developed a tight, close knit friendship that I love.

When people say to me that they would like to join our group, we all reply "This is a closed group. You have to wait for one of us to die before there is an opening. But you can start your own group," We all highly recommend that. It was just a case of all of us joining the local SAQA group and meeting up. Jo stood up at the meeting and said--I want to start a little group--and it went from there.

I hope that a couple of my Fabrigos friends will add to this post. We all have a lot to say about being artists.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Everthing in its Own Time

Hi all, Karen here--even though my post says Michael--don't know how to fix it!!! but Mike approves all of these messages!!!

I have read Al's recent post about making some larger pieces--and I love it--I have seen some very interesting things in his recent work--very innovative and beautifully done. Now I would like to see him use all that practice and turn it into a huge epic work.

Recently, I used the word epic in a little email to Jo. She was just feeling a little overwhelmed with lots of family responsibilities and I told her that a project we were working on didn't have to be epic. It's not the right time for Jo's epic work but it is for Al. He's ready for EPIC.

Al has a wonderful energetic approach to colour--imagine that on a huge scale.!!! wonderful!!! I can't wait to see it.

I have recently been pondering the size of my work, too. I have almost decided that I need to go smaller.

When my children were in their teens, and I had a full time job and a husband who could be a full time job just following him around, I remember having a big meltdown about never having time to devote myself to making quilts. At that time I had visions of a beautiful blue and yellow log cabin quilt--completely finished and on my bed--and I knew that it would never happen.

And that's when my love affair with miniature quilts began.

I have made many mini quilt and many small quilts. And I am feeling the pull of making more quilts in this size. The intricate quilts are not necessarily easier to make--in fact some of them are probably more difficult to put together but they are a lot easier to quilt. Most of the quilting can be done in an evening or two of television watching.
this one was quite a challenge

Short of having a longarm machine, I have been struggling with finishing the quilting on my large pieces. I do all of my quilting on my domestic machine and most of the time I am happy with the result. But it isn't easy. It's heavy work and not easy on my shoulders. I am working on a piece now that I have decided to quilt in segments and  then put the sections together. It worked for me on a couple of other works so I think I will do that again.

We have a road trip planned for the Fabrigos next week. I am so looking forward to it. There will be lots of epic --for sure.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Time to Reflect

Well I am finally winding down from a very busy two months of teaching and trunk shows!
I must say that I have enjoyed every minute of it.
I have had a few days off now and have had time to think about the future of my Fiber art career.
I am fortunate to have three commissions to fill my time in the next two months, but am seriously pondering my next adventure.  I recently saw a few of the pieces that are in World of Threads  and envied the size of some of the pieces!  This is were I want to go next!  I have done a few commission pieces that were quite large, but HUGE is where I need to explore!
Rather than making smaller things so that my trunk shows are constantly changing, I want to produce one very large piece this year for my personal pleasure. I will start by looking through my journals and drawings to see if something there that I have stored for future work will jump out at me. This usually works and I am always amazed when I go through my notes how I find something that is for RIGHT NOW!
My Fabrigos pals have also been re-thinking their future works.  We will soon get together and bombast each other with ideas (the best part of our group)!