Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to Reality

Having recently returned from a two month retreat, I am slowly coming back to the real world. I purposely allowed myself a gradual immersion so as not to shock my system.  I'm not going to give a recap of the trip here, but little bits and pieces will be incorporated into my blogs for the next few months.

Many have asked how the retreat was. I'm not sure I can find the words. Great, fantastic, excellent - these words really don't capture the depth of the experience. What I can say is that it was exactly what I needed. I enjoyed the solitude, the quiet, the time for personal renewal.  I also accomplished an awful lot. Near the end of the trip I was feeling that I didn't get much done, because I didn't have a lot of finished work to show for my time there. Then I realized how much I advanced a number of projects. A lot of my time was spent working with new techniques, so there was a bit of a learning curve. That time generated many ideas, which will provide inspiration for months to come.

My gradual immersion is over and this week will be busy with a long list of to-do's. But I know I can recapture the peace of the retreat by simply closing my eyes, taking a deep breath and silencing my mind.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Creative Expression

Last night I became reacquainted with a favorite quote. I'd like to share it with you because it might resonate with some of you as well.

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.
 Martha Graham

(Oh, the photo? That's the view from the back deck of the place I'm staying this summer. Ahhhh.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Art of Retreating

The word retreat often has a negative connotation in U.S. culture. We are focused on moving forward, not backward. Retreating when faced with a difficult situation may be seen as a sign of weakness or even cowardice. Retreating on one's formerly held viewpoint may result in being labeled a "flip-flopper". One who chooses to retreat from society and spend time in seclusion may be seen as eccentric or even downright weird.

Perhaps retreating should be considered a sign of strength and wisdom. Taking time to prepare for a situation, to contemplate a course of action or to evaluate other viewpoints can bring great insight. Resist the urge to act and allow the mind to settle into the quiet. Allow the answers from deep within to spring forth.

And so in this spirit, I am taking two months off for a personal retreat. The trip, at it's conception, was to be an art retreat. An opportunity to be by myself and create lots of art.  I set numerous lofty goals for my time. But now I've discovered that what I really need is time to contemplate bigger issues - where is my work going, how do I want to move forward, what kind of life do I want in the next 10 years?  I still plan to create art, but I've let go of some of those early goals.  I plan to indulge my whims and let the days unfold as they will.

I don't expect to be blogging during that time.  I'll have limited access to the internet (ahhhhh!) and little desire to keep up with blogs and social media.This is time for re-connecting - with nature, with my innermost desires, with my intuition and with my creativity. It is also a time for renewal (my word for 2013).

Wishing you all a happy and creative summer!  May you do some retreating of your own.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Want to Give Ice Dyeing a Try?

Ice dyeing with MX dyes produces beautiful patterns and vibrant color. It's a great substitute for snow dyeing and you can do it any time of year. What's so special about it, you ask? As the ice melts, it drips onto the cloth and dilutes the dye on some parts of the fabric.  This (along with the way the fabric is folded, scrunched and manipulated) contributes to the patterning.  It is especially interesting when you use mixed colors rather than pure colors.  They tend to break down into their component parts, resulting in rich color combinations.

Interested?  Join me next weekend, June 15 and 16th for an ice dyeing class in San Antonio. We'll explore several approaches to ice dyeing and you will leave with at least 4 yards of beautifully dyed fabric that can be used as-is for clothing, quilting or sewing projects or as the first layer for additional surface design techniques. (View photos of ice-dyed fabric.)

For more information or to sign up, visit the Southwest School of Art website.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Now Is The Best Season, 2010

When I first moved back to San Antonio nine years ago, I heard about a program in which the airport displays work of local artists.  It sounded exciting - having one's work in a place visited by thousands of people from all over the world.  At the time I didn't respond to the call for entry. You know those naysaying voices inside one's head - "You're not in that league yet.  Don't even bother to enter."  I listened to those voices, but I did have a vision.  A vision of my artwork hanging in the airport.

I had pretty much forgotten that vision until I saw the call for entry last fall. This time, I ignored those voices. Then I received an email saying that my work was accepted.  Wow - that vision would be complete. And even more exciting was the news that Jane Dunnewold's work would be on display in the same area. I feel honored to be a part of the program and honored to be in the company of my mentor and friend.

A series of five pieces that I created during the ArtCloth Mastery program were chosen for the airport location. (I wrote about my inspiration for the series in an earlier post.) The installation process went smoothly - the installers were true professionals! Below are a few photos of the installation last month.

If you find yourself in Terminal B at the San Antonio International Airport between now and October, look for Jane's and my work between Gates 4 and 6.

What are your aspirations?

Friday, May 17, 2013


Several weeks ago I read a book called, One Word That Will Change Your Life.  I usually stay away from books that make such big promises, but I was interested in the premise. The idea is that instead of creating new year's resolutions (which most people don't keep anyway) or a long list of goals, you choose one word that will be your focus for the year.

I've done that before, chosen a word at the beginning of the year that represented what I wanted to bring into my life.  Unfortunately I have not been good at keeping focused on that word throughout the year. So I read through the book (it's a quick read - it took me about 45 minutes) and felt compelled to try once again. 

I spent an hour reflecting and answering a few questions in the book designed to help people choose their word. My word became apparent through my writing.  After a month long flu/ear infection, eight months of feeling stressed about work and a general sense of disconnection, I realized that I needed to make some changes.  Renewal - body, mind, spirit - is my mantra.  (I know, that's four words. But I wanted the reminder of all three components.)

The book had some ideas about how to keep focused on the word throughout the year. One of them is to place your word prominently throughout your house.  I've found that loses effectiveness over time for me.  It's easy not to see it when it's always there.  I decided on a different approach.  I wrote up a number of statements/affirmations/actions related to renewal.  Then I spent an hour setting up four months of scheduled emails with those statements.  Every week, I automatically receive an email reminder of some aspect of renewal. The weekly reminder is valuable.  It does help keep me focused on my word. But even more amazing, the statement in each week's email has been exactly the message I need at that time.

So far, it's going well. I have made some positive changes in my life and I already feel a sense of renewal.

Have you ever tried something like this? How did it work out?  What is your "one word"?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Online Interview and Demo Rescheduled

I was supposed to do an online demo and interview today, but a wiser being decided I needed some rest.  I've been waylaid with the flu for the past week and do not have much of a voice right now.  Martiel Beatty was gracious enough to reschedule the interview for April 23th.  So the good news is, if you haven't registered for the book and fabric giveaway, you still have time!  I hope you can join us.

What: 12 Questions with Martiel Beatty
Date: Tuesday April 23, 2013
Time: 12:00 Noon Eastern Time
To watch the interview, visit the Crafty Link website.
To register for the giveaway, fill out the sign up form.  You must sign up before noon on April 23rd to be included in the drawing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fiber and Mixed Media Online Community

Yesterday I talked a little about online communities. Another one that I belong to is the Fiber & Mixed Media group (FAMM). The group has a great website, where you can connect with other artists.   The site has book and product reviews, a calendar of exhibitions and calls for entry, a discussion forum, special interest groups and online classes.

The next session of online classes starts this month, and some great classes are on the schedule! Having been on both sides (as an instructor and a participant), I love online classes. You can take a class by a nationally known instructor without traveling, you can work on it in your jammies and you don't have to haul supplies all over the place. They are also convenient, because you can access the materials through the end of the session.  Below are some of the Spring offerings (available through June 30). (View the complete schedule.)

Discover the power art has to express that which words cannot fully articulate in Turn the Prayer of Your Heart Into Art by Heather Stoltz.

Have you ever wondered what you could do with that doodle on the napkin or notepad? The Doodle Designs Workshop  by Susan Sorrell may be right for you!

Help get your mind around color combinations and how the color wheel works in Fear No Color  by Susan Sorrell.

Take a fresh look at the world around you in Fertile Earth Workshop by Susan Sorrell

The colorful patterns created by folding, tying and dyeing fabric or clothing are a distinctive identifier of an era. Join the fun in Stuck in the 60s: Tie Dye Art Quilt Sampler by Judy Sall.

Learn more about layering, the magical component that brings a collage to life, in Layer It Up! by Liz Kettle.

Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to create unique cloth with intriguing texture? Try my class, Visual Texture on Fabric: Resists From the Pantry.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Online Interview/Demo and Book Giveaway

Occasionally I think about how the internet has changed my life, just in the last decade. Ten years ago, I had a very slow dial-up connection. I went online for email, but didn't surf the web that much. Now, I can't imagine life without it.

One of the positive aspects of this change is the ability to connect with others online. There is a community out there for pretty much any interest area. I recently heard about a site, Crafty Link, that has online demonstrations, interviews, discussions and classes related to a variety of creative areas. I am honored to be next week's guest on the podcast, 12 Questions with Martiel Beatty. We'll talk a little bit about my book and my approach to creativity, and I'll be doing a resist-dye demonstration. I'll also give away a copy of my book, Visual Texture on Fabric and some resist-dyed cloth.

The interview takes place next Tuesday, April 9 at 12:00 noon Eastern time. If you can't watch the interview live, it will be available afterward for viewing. Register for the giveaway anytime before the interview.

I hope you can join us!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who Has Shaped Your Creative Journey?

One of the topics last week in my online creativity class was acknowledging those who have had an impact on one's creative journey. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge someone who made a big difference in my life.  While working in my former career in human resources I began taking watercolor classes. I took a few classes, but the instructors were uninspiring. Basically they just taught us to paint the way they painted. The class was structured so that we all painted the same thing.

I was about to give up on watercolor when I decided to take one more class from a different instructor, Veronica Potter. What a difference! She gave us tips about working with watercolors and showed us some techniques, but we were free to do what we wanted. She opened my eyes to a new way of working. I wouldn't call her a mentor, because we didn't have a long term connection, yet she had a huge impact on the course of my journey. The bottom line is I would never have pursued my art full-time if it wasn't for her.

Fast forward a few years. I often thought about Veronica and felt that I wanted to let her know about the impact she had. I wasn't sure how to get in touch with her since she wasn't teaching at the school anymore. Then one day I saw her at an art supply store. She was teaching a painting class there. I took advantage of the opportunity and told her how much of an impact she had on my journey. It felt great to finally thank her in person and I think she really enjoyed hearing it.

Who has shaped your creative journey?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Art Movie Night

Last year we implemented art movie night at our house.  A couple of times a month, we check out an art documentary from the library. We started it as a way to spark our creativity and gain some inspiration.  We don't limit ourselves to visual artists, we've watched documentaries about performing artists as well.

I have found it both enjoyable and inspirational.  I always get something out of it.  Even if I don't particularly care for the artist's style, I like to see how they approach the creative process and hear their philosophy. Often I find a serendipitous message that comes just when I need it.

Last month I discovered a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers streaming video of many documentaries.  That is a good alternative to the library, if you don't want to wait for the dvd to become available.

Below is a list of some of my favorites.  I'd love to your suggestions, too.

Wasteland – follows Vik Muniz as he creates portraits using items reclaimed from a recycling facility in Brazil
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present – fascinating documentary about the performance artist’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Andrew Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides – the documentary follows the artist as he creates art in natural settings with organic materials
Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour – compelling story of Chinese artist Weiwei’s work and fight for artistic freedom
George Harrison: Living in the Material World – great insights in to the life and work of Harrison
Exit Through the Gift Shop - documentary about Banksy and other street artists, with an interesting twist
My Kid Could Paint That – documentary about Marla Olmstead, a girl who received renown for her paintings at the age of 4

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Open Studio This Weekend at Art Cloth Studios

Fred logo

Please Join Us!

The new Art Cloth Studios is complete and we are having an open studio this weekend.  Join me, along with Jane Dunnewold, Leslie Jenison, Linda Charlton and Miki Rodriquez, this Saturday and Sunday.  Enjoy a studio tour, fabulous artwork, demonstrations and refreshments. I'll have my new line of hand painted and ice dyed scarves for sale, as well as ready-to-frame and canvas-mounted artwork.

Mural painting in progress on the new studio
The open studio is part of the On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour, which features over 70 artists and 40 galleries. The tour kicks off with an opening reception Friday night at Bihl Haus Arts, which features work from most of the artists participating in the tour. Mingle with the artists while enjoying the artwork, live music and refreshments.

I hope to see you there!

Opening Reception
Friday, February 15, 2013, 6-9 pm
Bihl Haus Arts

Open Studio
Saturday, February 16, 11 am to 6 pm
Sunday, February 17, noon to 5 pm
Art Cloth Studios, 1803 W. Woodlawn, San Antonio, Tx (about a mile west of I-10 at the corner of Elmendorf)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tote Bag Art

If you are like me, you have a pile of tote bags somewhere in your house or car. Some of them, like those from Quilt Festival or Wegmans Grocery, are works of art in their own right.  Others are rather plain and boring.This year, the Surface Design Association came up with a great idea for the 2013 conference in San Antonio.  They call it the Snag-A-Bag Swap. Instead of receiving  a plain tote bag when you sign in, you can trade in a tote that you have re-decorated through painting, dyeing, printing, scribbling, tufting, embroidering or other form of embellishment. Then you will receive a one-of-a-kind collector’s item created by someone else. Think of it as wearable art. (You can read more about the Snag-A-Bag Swap in the SDA's latest online newsletter.)

A few weeks ago, a group of local artists got together to "prime the pump".  We painted, fused and stitched to transform new and gently used tote bags into tote bag art.

Jane Dunnewold provided lots of paints and raw materials for us to use

Robin Early takes an abstract approach
Laura Ann Beehler adds a few finishing touches
Jean Dahlgren collaborates with other artists on design ideas

Marshall, the studio cat, was a bit overwhelmed by all the activity

We left a lot of bags drying on the clothesline
More bags drying outside
A few of the finished bags
Snagging a Bag is reason enough in itself to attend the conference, but there are a lot of other great reasons to go, too! Check out the SDA website to read more about conference happenings. And get a behind the scenes view on the SDA blog.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Online Art Portfolios

There are a lot of ways to put your art on the internet. You can put it on your blog or website, you can participate in online selling venues, such as Etsy or Fine Art America. There are also sites that act as a viewing gallery.

I'm still trying to figure out the "best" way to approach this. I do my website myself, so you'd think it would be easiest just to put everything there. But I'm not completely satisfied with the gallery pages on the software I use.  I've been putting photos of my work on a website called Behance. I find it easier to work with and I can group my work together by series. (You can view my portfolio on Behance by clicking this link.)

I'd love to hear how you all approach this. Do you prefer to have all your artwork on your website, or do you combine different approaches for getting your work out there? If so, what sites/software do you use?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Power of Negative Thinking

After reading the title, some of you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, is she advocating negative thinking?" No, I'm not.  I am generally very positive, however I am occasionally susceptible to those inner demons who see the worst in everything. And I have seen how powerful those thoughts can be. They can completely take over our mind and reframe events. I had a sharp reminder of that yesterday.

I had a small artistic setback in the morning.  The day was pretty busy and I was focused on the task at hand, so I didn't dwell on the setback. When things slowed down in the evening, my inner critic came out and began berating me. Pretty soon, that voice picked up on some other things that happened during the day and put a negative spin on those, too. By the time I went to bed, I had a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach. (I discovered a short-term band-aid.  I was reading the comics in bed and found myself laughing out loud.  That's when I realized I didn't feel as bad anymore.  I guess laughter really is good medicine.)

While this was going on, I was aware of it, but I just couldn't seem to change the course of my thoughts. This made me think of that old story about the man and the sinkhole.  Have you heard it?

A man walks down the street and falls into a sinkhole. The next day he does the same thing.  The third day, he does it again, but this time he thinks, "Hmm, I fell into that sinkhole again.  I better go a different way tomorrow."  The next day he walks down the street and falls into the sinkhole.  But this time, while he is falling, he thinks "Oh, yeah.  This darn sinkhole.  I need to go a different way tomorrow." He does this a few more times.  Then one day, as he is walking down the street he thinks, "That sinkhole is coming up, I better go a different way."

The element of awareness is crucial for change. Last night, I knew I was falling into the sinkhole.  Maybe tomorrow I'll remember the sinkhole before I fall in.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Overcoming Creative Blocks, Part Two

Last week, I wrote about some of my favorite ways to open up the flow of creativity.  They focused mostly on things to do in the studio to get the juices going. This week I'll share some ideas that are more about cultivating an atmosphere and a mindset of creativity.

Go Out
In the book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes what she calls an artist date. It is a commitment to spend time alone each week doing something that feeds your soul.  It could have absolutely nothing to do with your craft (a walk in the zoo, ice skating or taking cooking lessons) or it could be related to your area of focus (a conference for fiber artists, an art exhibit, or browsing an art supply store). This time can reduce stress that can block creativity and it exposes you to new things, which may inspire new ideas.

Cultivate Silence
Most of us have a constant chatter in our heads that leaves little room for our creative voice. Creating silence can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths before you begin your creative work. If you want to do more, incorporate short “breaks” throughout the day in which you focus on your breathing for 30 seconds or longer.

Creative Environment
Is your workspace conducive to creating? Only you can determine what that means.  Do you prefer quiet, do you like music, do you enjoy scented candles or incense, do you work best in daylight? What about clutter (or lack of)? Is your chair or stool comfortable, your table the right height?

A ritual is an intentional action in which one is focused on a particular thought, action or task. Rituals give us a feeling of consistency and stability.    Beginning your creative time with a ritual that is uniquely yours can create a sense of space and time apart from your normal day. The ritual signals to your body and mind that it is now time to create. The specifics of the ritual are different for everyone.  You may begin with a cup of tea, with a meditation, with a list of intentions or with a creative warm-up.

Apparently I'm not the only one focused on the topic of creativity right now.  Susie Monday recently wrote a blog post in which people sent in their suggestions for getting unstuck.


Donna Kallner began the new year describing a creativity exercise, something she writes about periodically on her blog.


How do you create an atmosphere or environment for creativity?

Read about some of the common blocks to creativity.

(If you are a regular reader of my blog, you've already seen mention of my online creativity class.  I promise this is the last time you'll see it this semester.)

If you could use some help in overcoming your creative blocks, join me in my online class, Re-Discover Your Creative Self.  The materials are now available online and you can sign up through the end of February. Work at your own pace and join in the class discussion if you have questions or want to share your thoughts.(For more information, visit my website.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Vive La Difference

We've all heard how difficult it is to get a group of artists together into a cohesive group. (Like herding cats, some say.) I have to congratulate Janice Elaine Cooper and Steven Smith, two local artists who have succeeded. They have organized an invitational exhibition of 13 local artists at one of the premier office buildings in the city. 

A range of media is represented, including acrylic painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media and fiber.  I am honored to be included with this group.  We hung the show Saturday and it is a magnificent representation of the talented artists in San Antonio. The opening reception is this Wednesday and I hope you can join us. Details are below.  

What:  Vive La Difference: 13 Artists, 13 Voices

When: February 6, 2013, 5-7 pm (Exhibition runs through March 31, 2013)

Where: Weston Centre, 112 East Pecan St., San Antonio, TX (Free parking in Weston Garage on Soledad south of Pecan)

Why: Stunning art in a stunning location, great wine and great conversation and 10% of all sales proceeds go to Make a Wish Foundation


Pam Ameduri
Lyn Belisle
Lauren Browning
Janice Elaine Cooper
Nancy L de Wied
Charles Ingram
Lisa Kerpoe
Luis Lopez
Ruth Mulligan
Steven Smith
Scott Vallance
Cody Vance
Deborah Wight

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Overcoming Creative Blocks


 Last week I wrote about some of the common blocks to creativity. This week I thought I'd list some of my favorite ways to overcome them. Here are my top four.

Do Something
The simple act of entering your workspace can spur ideas. Begin by cleaning or straightening. Pull out items from your stash and play with them. Hang up works in progress and brainstorm next steps.  You might want to keep a list of things to work on when you find yourself with no inspiration.

Daily Practice
Just as you need to keep your muscles active to prevent atrophy, you need to keep your creative “muscle” in shape. Make a goal of doing at least one creative thing every day. You might want to begin a visual journal or come up with short activities you can do to exercise your creativity.

Allot time each week or month to try something new. It might be a new technique, a new medium, a variation of something you already do. The idea is to expose yourself to new things, which often opens the mind and brings in new ideas. Make sure you keep in the spirit of play and avoid judging the result.
(The photo above is a piece I created while playing with textured gel mediums and acrylic paint. I really enjoy working with them and now I incorporate them into some of my fiber pieces.)  

Idea Journal
Our best ideas always seem to come when we least expect it. When do you get your best ideas? In the shower? In bed at 4 in the morning? On the way to work? Develop a system to capture those ideas. It might be a notebook you carry with you, it might be an app on your smartphone or tablet, it might be a tape recorder. It’s great to have a stash of ideas to look through for inspiration.
What is your favorite way to overcome a creative block?

Read more strategies for overcoming creative blocks.

If you could use some help in overcoming your creative blocks, join me in my online class, Re-Discover Your Creative Self.  The materials are now available online and you can sign up through the end of February. Work at your own pace and join in the class discussion if you have questions or want to share your thoughts.(For more information, visit my website.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

More "Now Points"

Last summer I spent a month working on some compositions that were inspired by a quote. (Time is not a line, but a series of now-points. -Taisen Deshimaru)

I was drawn to that quote because it is a good reminder that we should focus our energies on each moment as it comes. That is all we really have. I see it as a hopeful message, because it doesn't matter what we did with our "now-points" in the past.  Each moment is an opportunity for redemption.  An opportunity to treat others with compassion, to take a step toward our goals, to live in the manner we desire. 

I created numerous medium-sized pieces to determine my approach for two longer pieces of art cloth (9 ft x 3 ft). The ultimate goal was a juried exhibition for the Art Cloth Network. I finished my two pieces just in time for the deadline.

Now Points: Journey
Journey, detail view

Journey may look somewhat familiar.  I created a smaller piece as a study and wrote about it in a
previous blog. 

Now Points: Converging Paths
Converging Paths, detail view
The first piece was accepted into the exhibition, Interpretations. Later this spring, we'll have photos of all the pieces that were accepted into the exhibition available to view online.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Public Art San Antonio

San Antonio is a wonderful place to live as an artist. (It's great even if you aren't an artist.) It offers numerous programs that support the arts. One of these programs is the Public Art program. This program is responsible for both permanent and temporary exhibits. The temporary exhibit program has expanded over the past few years and showcases local artists' work in public buildings throughout the city.

I have the honor of being one of the artists chosen for the 2013 temporary exhibit program. Other participating artists include:Jane Dunnewold, John Dyer, Andrea Huerta, Norma Jean Moore, Sabine Senft, Luis Valderas and James Woodard.

Last night the city held a small reception for the artists to show us the exhibits in the City Hall and Municipal Building. The artwork is exceptional and it really adds warmth to the public spaces. The lighting wasn't the best for photography, however they will eventually be posted on the PASA website, http://www.publicartsa.com/ Below is a photo of two of my pieces, located outside the city manager's office.

What types of public art programs does your city offer?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Screen Printing with Stencils, Part Two

Last week I showed you some of the screen printing stencils I created with interfacing and acrylic paint. Today I have photos of stencils I created using resists. I use resists on silkscreens quite often. It is a great way to do deconstructed or breakdown printing, because as you apply the wet medium, the resist breaks down, changing the pattern as you work.  That can be a disadvantage, however, if you want a particular design and don't want the breakdown to occur. That's where the stencils come in.  I thought it would be a good way to create a design that can be used indefinitely. The resist is applied to the stencil. When it dries, paint is applied over the open areas. Then the resist is washed off, leaving behind a pattern.

A little warning: the process is not for the faint of heart. Depending on which resists you use, it can be difficult to wash the resist out of the interfacing. I found flour paste and mashed potatoes particularly difficult to remove. It is also more time consuming than just applying paint to the interfacing. Depending on which resist you use, it can take 2 or three days to complete a stencil. Not good for those who want instant gratification.

If you want to try this yourself, two things to keep in mind.  First, the thickness of the interfacing does matter.  I prefer medium weight. Very thin interfacing becomes fragile when wet and tears easily.  Heavy weight interfacing absorbs so much dye or paint that it is hard to get a good print. Second, you may need to use several coats of paint to completely block the interfacing. 

The first stencil was created by applying flour paste resist with a spring whisk. The areas which had the flour paste become the open areas that the paint or dye goes through.

Flour paste resist

For this stencil, flour paste was applied to the entire piece of interfacing. Then a wire whisk was pressed into the flour to remove some of the paste.

The last flour paste sample I created is shown below. I applied flour paste to the entire piece of interfacing, then used a window chamois to remove some of the flour paste. The three stencils form a nice suite, don't you think?

Soy wax is a bit easier to wash out than flour paste. The stencil below was created by stamping the wax on the interfacing with a square sponge.

It is a bit difficult to see the above design in the sample, since it was created with several layers of stencil screen prints.

This stencil is one of my favorites, although it took forever to get all the mashed potatoes washed out. I applied instant mashed potatoes over the entire piece of interfacing. When it dried, the potatoes cracked into large chunks.

Have you tried  interfacing screen printing stencils? What were your results?

Monday, January 21, 2013

In a Creative Slump?

 Post-holiday blues got you down? No motivation or ideas flowing your way? Been away from your art so long, you aren't sure how to get back into it? You aren't alone! I've been in a creative slump on and off for the past 4 months. I've been through this before, and I know how to work though it.  So when it came time to plan my online classes for January, I jumped at the idea of teaching a creativity workshop.  I relished the opportunity to go through all my books on creativity and review all the techniques and tricks I've learned over the years. I knew that by sharing these techniques with others, it would motivate me as well.
(You can read about my success story in the last paragraph.)

A good place to start is to become aware of what is blocking your creativity. A number of things can cause you to lose touch with your creative side.  Below are some of the most common.

Stresses of daily life
Who doesn’t have stress in their lives?  A certain amount is expected.  However occasionally something happens to kick up the stress levels – troubles on the job, a sick loved one, financial issues. It is normal to feel disconnected from creative thoughts at these times. However this is the time when you most need a creative outlet.

Negative thoughts
Even the most positive among us occasionally thinks “I’m just not creative” or “Who am I kidding, I can’t do this”. It's easy to let those thoughts take over and to give up on creative pursuits.

Some people put enormous pressure on themselves – either to complete things in an unrealistic time frame or by feeling that everything they create has to be a perfect. The harsh truth is, not everything you create will be great.  (This is still a problem for me - I want everything I create to be a masterpiece. Ha!) Probably only one out of 10 pieces will be really great. One or two may be awful and the rest of them will be good or acceptable. Putting on the pressure stifles creativity. Allowing yourself to fail puts you one step closer to something really good.

Attachment to a specific outcome
It’s hard not to have any expectations, but they can blind us. I visited an artist’s studio years ago and saw a beautiful ceramic urn she had created. I commented on how much I liked it and was told it was destined for the trash because it didn’t turn out the way she wanted. All she saw was failure, rather than seeing the beauty that was there. Just because a piece doesn't meet your vision doesn't mean it is worthless.

Fear is a big creativity killer. People are afraid of lots of things – of what others will think, of trying something new, of failure. And fear often disguises itself, so it may take a bit of probing to determine the underlying fear.

What are your biggest creativity blocks? 

If you could use some help in overcoming your creative blocks, join me in my online class, Re-Discover Your Creative Self.  The materials will be available online beginning Tuesday, January 29 and you can sign up through the end of February. Work at your own pace and join in the class discussion if you have questions or want to share your thoughts.(For more information, visit my website.)

Now for the rest of my story. As I began to develop the workshop, I found myself becoming excited and energized.That energy extended beyond class development and into my work.  The end result - I've been waking at 6 every morning full of ideas for a new piece. Next week I'm taking a week long independent study at Art Cloth Studios, so I'll have all week to follow through on my ideas.  I can't wait!

Read my blog post about strategies for overcoming blocks.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...