Archive for the ‘time management’ Category

musings…

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

detail of screen-printed wedding dress, lace and bridesmaid dress

In 2012 right after my Dad died and I was recovering from my second knee replacement, I felt like I needed a lifeline. I had been ruminating for at least two years beforehand¬†about creating¬†a mixed media women’s art group. So I chose 7 regional artists to join me, and six accepted. One from my past life in fiber, another three I knew from the arts council¬†and¬†functions there, while others¬†I knew of their work but had never met them.

It was important to me that they be working in different media than I and that they were already established, with a list of juried exhibitions, website, sales history etc. I had been in groups where I was the only one with that history and there was nothing for me to learn. I wanted more! We had our first meeting, set up ground rules and started right in inspiring each other with our work and process.

Now nearly 5 years since, the group has redefined our intention, seen changes and moves, lost members, gained members, retaining three original and settled¬†into a very comfortable¬†dynamic.¬†Now we are a group of six, three here and three in Sonoma and it just feels so right. We rotate each month, meeting in each other’s homes and/or studios. Although my original intention was fewer fiber and more other media, we now are comprised of five who work with fiber (paper and cloth) and one who works with metal;¬†yet none of us does exactly the same work. And all of us have long marriages, which that in of itself in today’s world is¬†both unusual and spectacular!¬†One of the things I enjoy¬†most about this group is the wisdom that transfers between¬†us as we each move in,¬†out and through our individual creative processes.

Last week I had been asked, by a visiting artist friend, how much time I spend in the studio?¬†She asked me if I work in the studio every day? I laughed…hardly! It varies I said but I guesstimate I work in the studio on average 7-10 hours a week. And yet that seems so completely inaccurate to me so perhaps¬†I should keep track. Or maybe count the times I walk past the door?

In¬†yesterday’s art group meeting the subject of studio time came up.¬†Not so much from the how much time do you spend in the studio part but more from the how much time is spent in contemplation and research for each new work? It was then that I really¬†comprehended¬†that so¬†many of my waking hours are spent contemplating the message for¬†each piece in¬†the¬†Defining Moments series. In¬†addition there is thoughtful consideration of how, as in technique to implement that message so when the viewer looks at the piece they understand what I¬†am conveying.

A lot more time goes into thinking about the construction. I used to be very spontaneous in my work, and still am to some extent; but there is also careful thought¬†of just how to construct it to get the most impact; and that thought occurs everywhere, in the shower, at the gym, while driving, ‘watching’ TV, when I should be sleeping, etc. Then there is the stitching. As I am incorporating more hand-stitching into my work¬†I ponder a lot about that.

Most recently I have also dealt with my¬†inner perfection critic… just how perfect these stitches must be?! I used to say I was a recovering perfectionist but clearly there is more work to be done on that front! I find it rather¬†remarkable that I am so drawn to hand-stitching, and sometimes actually crave it, yet when I do it, it’s so tight. A good metaphor for the state of my brain perhaps. So there is more thinking about relaxing¬†which is truly¬†ironic, although a good overall trait to possess.¬†When all of this is added up it seems I spend hours and hours and hours on the process, but maybe just 7-10 hours a week actually applying hand to fabric.

hand-stitching my headscarf through 4 layers of lace, cloth and batting

That said I am putting the final stitches, by hand, onto #16 which is about our marriage, which truly was a defining moment in my life. Because I thought I would be through by now, #17 is being drafted and #18 insisted on 3 am contemplation last night.  So progress is being made on the final 9 pieces of this series, which I still very much enjoy even if it takes up most of my headspace.

So how much time do I spend on my art weekly? How many hours are there in a week?

 

 

stop making small…

Friday, November 18th, 2016
scrap purses

scrap purses

One of the problems of being creative in a capitali$t society is people always say you could sell that. As an exhibiting member in artists’ co-ops, that has often been music to my ears as I have had an outlet for $tuff I could $ell!

It is also appealing from the sense that it is a great way to gain exposure for my large work while smaller work pays the rent. And I know they are some who mass-produce small items to make a profit in their respective galleries and good for them. But¬†I have long struggled with the idea of making ‚Äėstuff‚Äô just to $ell.

For me it has always been a huge investment of my time and materials with little gratification in return. I am constantly retraining my brain so that when someone says you could sell that, I take it simply as a compliment and go no further with it. And yet I forget and once again find myself in sweatshop assembly line hell. Seemingly I needed this reminder once again.

I started sewing these small purses as a fun, quirky way to use up scraps. Each one is unique, one of a kind etc. They take on average 90 mins to construct, from scraps, purchased buttons and cord straps. Initially I sold many, which justified to me the rent I paid to show my larger work; the work that resonates in my soul; the true reason I am an artist.

Last summer I received a phone call from someone who had picked up my biz card in the gallery. She wanted to know if I would sew her a custom scrap bag in specific colors to go with (fill in the blank.) I simply said no! She seemed shocked that I would say no! Would I not be grateful that someone liked my work so much that I would welcome a custom order? What kind of ingrate am I anyway? Do I not appreciate the below minimum wage I am making for these fine bags? Sensing¬†her palpable shock I added that I merely sew¬†these to use up scraps from my large ‚Äėmuseum quality‚Äô work; and that making the bags was not my primary creative endeavor. She found a quick way to hang up. I felt liberated!

Then an artist acquaintance called suggesting I take my tote bags to a nearby boutique run by a friend of her sister’s neighbor’s brother-in-law, twice removed. I could sell those in this shop! I told her I wasn’t interested. I have been down that long narrow retail hallway before, selling hand-dyed, screen printed silk scarves. It is not what I want to do with my time. She was quite annoyed that I did not relish this golden retail opportunity!

I have managed to find the strength deep within to just say NO to painting shoes for sale. How many times have I heard you could sell those while wearing my painted chucks? I have painted them for friends, because I don’t mind doing that, but no way am I going to subject myself to hours of fumes for the almighty $. And besides do you have these in pink in a size 6? NO.

This said, recently I was asked to sew up a bunch more of the scrap bags for holiday sales at the gallery and elsewhere. Earlier this year I had sewn a bunch of ‚Äėblanks‚Äô i.e. the pieced scrap backs so essentially the work was already half done. And yet I could not pry myself away my current series to sew these little bags. Finally forcing myself to do it, the first one took me nearly 2 hours to get back into the sweatshop assembly line groove. Once I got a rhythm going it was better but I kept feeling like I did not want to be doing this.

You know how sometimes you just get a feeling about something, but you keep ignoring it? Well this time it took two artist friends, in the span of two days to tell me to stop making small stuff! Stop making stuff that other people want me to make and make stuff that I want to make! DUH.

Of course then the daughter-of-the-war-bride steps in and says, yeah, but…or as I like to abbreviate yebbit.. what am I to do with all this stuff I have made (that never sold although you could sell that?!) This is where the helpful people step in and say, you could open an Etsy shop! Yeah, that is also what I don’t want to do. I want to get out of the small stuff biz entirely. So for now I will just put it all away or I may just donate it to charity before year’s end and take a tax deduction. Yes I could do that!

Some of the small stuff I have made under the guise of you could sell that is… iPad bags & large tote bags made from early quilts, matted collages,

matted collages

matted collages

portfolio folders collaged with batik & painted papers & foreign newspapers; fabric postcards and note cards. The latter sell, some of the former has sold but there has also been a lot of could I get one in red and black? Could you make these in a smaller size? Could you make four for me to choose from?

quilted tote bags

quilted tote bags

So this latest round of spectacular scrap bags are a limited edition! I am finished thinking small (she says optimistically). I LOVE the museum quality work I am doing. I am done with small.

As a friend says…NO is a complete sentence! So I continue to learn to play attention to that inner nudge and take better care of myself. After all that is pricele$$.

 

 

 

long arms vs. my arms which are also long…

Saturday, October 15th, 2016
img_7477

detail stitching, no 15

For most of the time that I have been working on this series of 25 large pieces, I have been ruminating about my machine. I actually have three at present. I have a Pfussy Pfaff workhorse which does great free-motion stitch, I have a Janome 3000 for when the workhouse is in the shop and I have a Baby Lock serger that threads itself.

Yet everytime I stitch large work I get into a tug of war with the small apron on the workhorse through which¬†passes¬†a lot of fabric. Last time I took Pfussy in for service I was seduced by a mid-arm placed strategically by the door. Oooh, aaah I thought, for a mere $6K I could stop fighting with Pfussy and acquire this dream machine with its three foot table and my life would be perfect! And hey it is a lot cheaper than a long arm machine, I rationalized. I didn’t buy it, but I have given it a lot of thought.

The long arm, for example, would take up a lot of real estate but I could put it in the basement, as in out of sight, out of mind; which of course would mean standing on that cold hard concrete floor to stitch. Ok, a rug would fix that but must I stand to stitch, really? The mid-arm would allow me to sit but where would I put it?

There is nary three square feet of space available in my studio, let alone for me to pull up a chair and sit next to it. I suppose I could put it in the living room but then would have to move it for entertaining, or I could also put it in the basement, but then would have to put in better lighting to use it there. And so it goes.

This weekend is PIQF, the big Mancuso quilt show in Santa Clara, which is a perfect chance to see all my¬†choices front and center, to tear and compare. And yet¬†I decided to stay home and stitch #15 on Pfussy.¬†Apparently I don’t want one bad enough!

Today I encountered even more challenges¬†such as the machine and slanted board on which it sits, hitchhiking near the table’s edge; the dog having a¬†corner of the quilt in her mouth thinking this was a game and my ongoing covet of the slick pulley system to lift the quilt’s weight, for which I put in my order to the honey-do list at least 3 months ago. I trudged on. I fretted about my curved stitching on this manly piece. I envisioned my¬†conversation¬†at the hardware store asking in clear mud for just the part I need…I need one of those do-hickeys that cord wraps around in a figure eight. And I need a thin mat of rubber, like those round jar openers that realtors sent out twenty years ago, to put under my machine so it doesn’t walk. Huh?

Why am I procrastinating on buying a machine¬†&¬†table that will greatly enhance the quality of my life as textile artist? The real reason is I don’t know how much longer I will be doing this type of work. My brain is overflowing with ideas of work to do after this series but I don’t know how they will manifest so I don’t feel like investing in major equipment that I may or may not be using for another decade.

Or in plain English decluttering has taken possession of my brain.

it has come to my attention…

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
Mops editing text

Mops editing text

…that my dog may need a blog! This weekend I caught her editing my work when it was suggested to me that she needs her own blog. Personally I cannot imagine this being a fruitful enterprise as it would require my giving her my passwords, and I am not sure she can be trusted with those, just yet.

Besides what could she possibly talk about? Sure there are the other dogs at doggie daycare, aka DDC, or¬†perhaps she could gossip about the other dogs on the block, or Pooki and Coco next door. She could talk about her down dog pose or she might critique her dining options, or even the cleanliness of her dog run. She can’t complain about her sleeping accommodations as she readily pops into her crate each night at¬†the mere utterance of ‘nighty night.’ She might grouse about how sneaky I have become about getting the harness and leash on her to go in the car. Or she might carry on about her carsickness which we seem to finally have a handle on.

But after that, what? Oh yea, nothing.¬†Life is good in Mopsy’s world, and by default in mine, as her human.

just chillin'

just chillin’

this and that…v.12

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
morning walk: rotted wood, roses, yarrow, red cabbage, potholes

morning walk: rotted wood, roses, yarrow, red cabbage, potholes

I have been preoccupied with life for the past month. I continue to work on #12 in the collaborative series, with 13, 14 and 15 fermenting in my cranium.

And we continue to work on dog training.¬†Mops is coming along so well, aside from the times when she chews up something important. I work diligently to stay¬†one step ahead of her. Most recently she chewed the straps off the face mask I wear to breathe when I sleep! Not very helpful…but we love her anyway!

Mopsy, in witness protection program

Mopsy, in witness protection program

We regretfully postponed a big trip but in doing so got to add more on to it, so in the end it will be a better vacation. We would have been away now so this opens up my studio time. Abundant free time however often makes self-discipline much more difficult!

morning walk: Mops, pond scum, bbq grate, goose poop, weeping willow reflection

morning walk: Mops, pond scum, bbq grate, goose poop, weeping willow reflection

One thing I have been doing a lot of is taking photos of interesting textures, patterns, colors, etc on my morning walks. I then collage on an app and post to my Instagram feed. Many have told me they love my morning walk photos. For me it trains my eye to see the art in everyday living.

Of course medical science would say that to stop and photograph while walking is not exactly stellar cardio. We all have our priorities! ART is mine.blog.walk3

reflections…

Friday, March 4th, 2016

reflectionsI spent hours today looking for ‘new work’ to submit to two juried exhibits. It was a fruitless effort which brought up a major pet peeve on this¬†subject. Dated work is something that happens predominantly in the quilt/art quilt world. It doesn’t happen so much, if ever in the fine art world. Galleries seldom, if ever, say no work made before 2013.

Since I have been engrossed in a three-year collaborative series since 2014 all my new work has been predominantly series work. I have taken time out to make a small piece for a fundraiser here or a members show there, but mostly nose to the grindstone on the collaboration.  It galls me no end that entry prospectus writers/curators request work made since a particular date; and that said date is usually just one or two years prior to today.

Granted there are clueless people who will enter the first piece they ever made in 1990 but most professional artists do not enter work to (a) “get rid of it” or (b) that is not their best work. Why on Earth would I want to show work that does not speak to who I am as an artist? Besides if they did allow entries from 1990, these shows are juried so the old work can easily be found and plucked from the pile. Think of the money they could make from all these fees for old work submissions! Another subject for another day…

People might say, well just make a new piece that fits the parameters of the call. I could but some 7-8 years ago I vowed to never make work specifically for an entry call. Never say never but mostly¬†I do not create work for someone else’s muse, only for my own. So that said I have nothing that fits the DATED call and so will not be entering my work. It is their loss really, as I see it. My work could add so much substance to their exhibit, were they not so rigid in their vision.

how long did that take you?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
collage images of DM10

collage images of DM10

There are two very predictable comments made to any person who works with cloth and thread: My grandmother was a quilter and how long did that take you to make that?

Today as I finished stitching #10 in the collaborative series Defining Moments I was reminded of the latter. I was reminded when the stitching of the windows took me 90 minutes while the entire building, sky and sun took nearly 3 hours.

A friend and I had a long conversation about this during her stint in Open Studios last year. She said folks would look at her work, then the price and immediately ask ‘how long did that take you?’

We know that in this society people affix value to something based on its hourly rate. To them it is a dollar per hour equation whereas for most of us who work in cloth it is often a per square foot price. She and I laughed about how we could divide the price we are asking for our work by a number below the minimum wage and use that number as our hours the piece actually took us to make. So when asked this redundant question, we could answer something like 900 hours!

pre- and post-stitch windows

pre- and post-stitch windows

While rethinking an answer to this most common¬†question I am reminded though of¬†all the actual hours that go into a large piece of my work. There are the hours spent in research which for this series has been many; hours spent in the design of the ‘cartoon,’ the hours considering¬†the best materials to use, the hours spent creating the exact fabric to convey my design, let alone if I have to go shopping for same. Then there are hours of thinking about it while out walking, REM hours and sleepless nights problem solving,¬†and never forget the hours of procrastination when I¬†really should be working on it, but would rather play Mahjong on the computer. And then there is the actual construction sewing and stitching!

Someone once said the best answer to how long did it take you to make that¬†is to state my age at that moment; for it took my entire lifetime up till now to conceive and create this work. Actually I think that idea goes over most people’s head so I prefer to just say, oh about 900 hours!

on getting out of my own way…

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

TG Series clothI have spent most of this day fighting the voice that tells me I must go downstairs (to the cold basement) and create two new thermofax screens to print cloth for #11. This sense of urgency is based on two things; that #10 is nearly¬†completely stitched and with 15 more to go, time is a wastin’. Even with all the self awareness work I have done I still seem to occasionally believe that old family mantra that procrastination = laziness. Unbelievable!

Way back last year though I began to see procrastination = process & fermentation so why should I feel the least bit poorly that I am not interested in making those screens right this minute, or worse yet applying them immediately to cloth? After all it is just January 5 and I have 361 more days thanks to Leap Year to make those 15 pieces, or at least ten of them.

So utilizing the best excuse possible of a¬†cold basement on a rainy winter’s day I chose to stay upstairs and stitch more of #10. I put on some Bach and stitched for quite some time. I accomplished a lot not the least of which was I got out of my head. It¬†occurred to me that the real reason I had not wanted to go make the screens and use them was I was not yet content with¬†my choice of fabrics for this piece. I had pinned some¬†choices to the design wall, based entirely on the available length of the fabrics. Today it came¬†to me that I could use instead other fabric I had not even considered; fabric that makes total and complete sense. For the theme of #11 is what I hope will be the last time I tell in cloth the story of my shortening surgeries.

The new cloth for #11 is already printed with imagery. It is a piece from the very beginning of my work on the TallGirl Series. It is printed with tall girl tales for¬†which I had changed the font so the stories were illegible. It was designed a decade ago when I’d just begun to find my voice, but still was fearful of the repercussion¬†of doing so. How totally¬†appropriate and relevant to use cloth from the project conception¬†to put closure on it today.

Thanks be to Johann for the clarity! We must visit more often.

 

…on documentation and dawgs

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
hand-dyes

hand-dyes from Soderlund class

A few years ago I added an important¬†form of documentation to the categorization of my work. I put together a 3″ thick binder, in chronological order, of all the work I have made since 1998. Initially resistant to the idea as I already have a website and hardcopy portfolio; the reasoning behind this was posterity. So when archaeologists are digging through my house in 2500 they will know why I made this work and what it entailed. Yea, I know, a big stretch. ¬†All the same it is good information to have especially laid out in chronological order.

So I was a tad¬†astonished today, while looking¬†at my documentation¬†binder to find¬†a¬†small work finished since 2013 to enter in the local arts center member show, that I only had two pieces that qualified and one of them I showed there last year. The remaining piece is the other half of the diptych and even though looks slightly different I am certain there would be outrage that I showed the ‘same work’ there two years in a row!

I was also surprised¬†that in 2015 I have completed just four large pieces of work. Throwback to 2009 when I made over 60 pieces in one year. It seems I have slowed down a bit in the past 6 years! Of course I have all kinds of reasonable excuses; both knees replaced, my father’s death, and a year plus of chronic debilitation, so that is understandable. I also have been engrossed in the 3 year collaboration, so the four pieces I made this year were for that. And there are all big ones!

It really is somewhat of a personal accomplishment that I have slowed down production so much. I’d been so prolific in the past in comparison. Maybe just maybe I am living life more presently¬†and making art differently as well. Before my work was fairly spontaneous whereas now it requires a lot of research and introspection before even drafting the design.

Mizu in dog friendly, fancy hotel dining room

Mizu in dog friendly, fancy hotel dining room

And then there are the additional procrastination modes: the¬†aforementioned rescue pooch who is both delight and terror barks at anything that stands still, or in hubs’ case exhales. My days are full of interruptions to calm the dog, to work towards ending her fear aggression. It is exhausting and yet somehow I get the message that maybe this is the point. The point is to get me to stop, breathe, stay in the moment, and chill.

And by¬†default I am the tech guru in the family. So a new modem-router threw everything connected to it out of whack. I have managed to reconfigure a few things but still have daily technology reconfiguration headaches. I’d much prefer to sit back with my crazy pooch and toss bonbons than try to reprogram the solar panel connector or the Netflix device that won’t allow me to sign in.

In a perfect world someone would come in with a magic wand, make everything work and calm the dog in their wake. Yea…and I believe in the tooth fairy too.

odds and other things…

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
vintage postage stamp birthday block

vintage postage stamp birthday block

 

This month other than the collaboration it has been a bit of odds n’ ends…

I have finished #8, which I have yet to photograph, in the 25 pc collaboration and am in process of designing #9. I am loving this series so much as it continually challenges me in how to express each particular idea. I don’t draw or sketch well, but Google images can often give me a profile or shape from which to start. And I have a spreadsheet of ideas to incorporate in each one which helps with flow and continuity.

This spring I contributed a 12″ square piece titled Keeping Up Appearances #8 to an annual fundraiser for SAQA. As part of their marketing for the benefit auction different artists choose ‘dream collections’ and mine came up today in the fourth grouping. This piece was designed from a vintage embroidered cotton hand towel.

Keeping Up Appearances #8

Keeping Up Appearances #8

Also this week¬†I made¬†a 6″ x 6″ stitched block for a colleague who is turning 70 in October. She wants a collection of blocks from friends that reflect her interests. She¬†plans to stitch the¬†blocks together for a big quilt. On her long list of interests was postage stamps. Ironically in the big pile of stuff I amassed from my mother’s things to use in the collaboration were some vintage postage stamps! So I scanned the stamps, collaged in PhotoShop, printed to fabric, made a sandwich, stitched, cut and mailed it off. Voila‚Ķthe image is above.

painted canvas bags for fundraiser

painted canvas bags for fundraiser

And I painted canvas tote bags for an October fundraiser at the Arts Guild of Sonoma. I painted the bags with Dyna-flow and then screen-printed text with Lumiere. They came out fine although not 100% clarity but then I was screening through several layers of folded cloth so I am satisfied. And I am just thrilled to have them finished as I was running out of time. The bags will be on exhibit October 6-26.