ends and beginnings

I emptied my thread ends box today. It held the threads that didn't get used on a piece this year. These threads were active players without a field to play in. They came into existence at the end of thoughts rather than the beginnings. They got snipped off and thrown to the side after trying hard to be part of the team. There are a lot of them.

I've grown used to not being satisfied with each and every work that I create. Like these thread ends some work just doesn't work. The process of creating has become more important to me than the finishing up. For each work that gets finished I estimate that there are two or three pieces that get thrown under the table. Thus, I have fallen in love with my rotary cutter, it facilitates my cut-up-and-rework frame of mind. I am beginning to see a signature style in all of the work. I am drawn to black. I like surprises and there is an undertow of anxiety in all of them.

Cut-up-and-rework pieces

I named the work I finished: Aquifer, Beast, Chaos Ensues, Focus on Something Else, Glyphs, I Need a Third Eye, Ladder to Elsewhere, Looking for the Pattern that Connects, Signals, Thugs, Unglued, and Unmapped.

Some finished pieces

And now I am working on a piece called Ship of Fools.

Ship of Fools work in progress

2018 will be filled with new challenges: a one man show at a local art museum, a proposal to a local venue for a juried show in Memphis, several teaching positions and days and days of continuing my work. It's those last items that I look forward to the most. They provide a silence and thoughtfulness that fills me up.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope to meet some of you this year in workshops. Check out the listings at the right for dates and locations.

May your studio be filled with inspiration and your days full of mystery and wonder.

variety, as in: life; spice of

The spicy tang of variety seeped into my studio this week. I work in series. And I work in serious pursuit of message.

Sometimes I grow weary and feel like I am repeating myself. Other times I am overzealous and over my head. This I know: pursuit is the reason. The act of making, stitching, cutting, pressing and assembling fabrics and threads brings clarity to thought. Believe me, if you sit and stitch for three hours on a little scrap of canvas your mind travels, bends and surges. Here's a little gallery of what I worked on this past week:

I finished Beast this week. It is a ragged, angry blot that satisfied a certain itch within.

I removed some orange thread stitching on the center figure of Thugs and added some black flies to the background. Black flies bite.

Part of my Silent Witness series: Yes, but does it pass the smell test? is on the design board. I need to figure out how to finish the edges of these small pieces. But first I need to make lots more of them.

Liar, liar, rough cut. This greets me every morning.

This confection of polkadots and swirls satisfied my need to chill out and just let the thread tell me where to go.

I tested some colors and curves.

I used the leftovers from the curve tests to create this composition that I am calling Woof. Random acts of piecing netted a live dog with attitude.

Another Silent Witness piece in process, Disruptor. Hand stitching slowed down my thoughts and forced me to focus.


Clear the decks! Bring out the trumpets! Reshuffle the shelving! Close the doors! Breathe.

I need a brain blender to swirl all these thoughts together into a consistent puree. Where did I put that reset button?
Beast , a work in progress, challenges me to leave the ragged ragged. No clean up required.

Beast, a work in progress, challenges me to leave the ragged ragged. No clean up required.

Dipped in early daffodils and icy evenings the moon shots and news jaunts are rousing lightning strikes to what I know is true. My desk and head are piled with idea roadmaps and diagrams. New books to read, new art to create. I'm in at seven and out at four every day breathless and stiff. Body aches ignored I pursue the frenzy because I know it will subside. And then what? Will all these ideas seem like a self conscious effort to put it all together? Or will it give me a clear path to stronger work?

Meanwhile I stitch. On pieces of anger and pieces of doubt and pieces of warning and pieces of angst.

Breathe. Reshuffle the shelving, sweep the scraps, fold the layers together for a whole.  I hesitate. Perhaps a simple, artful journey of color and stitch will clear the sinuses of my angst? Step away from the storm.

Polkadots rock.

Polkadots Rock , a palate cleanser. I had to find some light in the darkness.

Polkadots Rock, a palate cleanser. I had to find some light in the darkness.

I'm working on an online shop to sell my quilts. Watch for that later this month.