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I’m back

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Did anyone miss me?  Actually, no one knew I was gone.  In a ghetto neighborhood, like the one I live in, you don’t tell anyone you are leaving home for a few days because you might not have anything left when you return.  Blog readers may have wondered why I didn’t post for several days and I have several emails to answer but no one in the neighborhood or online really knew.

It’s been years since I was gone from home for more than a few hours.  My daughter came every morning before work to open curtains and returned in the evening to close them again.  Oh, and she fed my furry kid Dylan too.  A couple of neighbors may have wondered why they hadn’t seen me for a few days.  Mostly no one actually notices me either way.  I’m easy to forget.

Future utility poles

Future utility poles

Well anyway,  I went to a Hollis Chatelain class at LouCon.  Let me tell ya, there are probably very few quilters who don’t know the work of Hollis Chatelain.  I asked her to say her last name for me so I could pronounce it right.  Uh, duh! It’s a French name.  I’d never be able to say it even after hearing it.  Not with the accent I have.  I simply said thank you and walked on.

Well anyway, quilters everywhere know her quilts by sight.  She wins ribbons and big prizes at the major quilt shows.  Click on her name link to see examples of her work.  She is a fantastic artist.  Umm, while you are looking at her art check out the prices on some of her quilts.

I expected to see high prices but ghee whiz some of her wall size quilts are priced at more than my house and everything inside it cost me.  Including the Gammill.  But, her pieces do sell so why shouldn’t she ask a big price for them?  I would do the very same thing if I thought someone would actually buy my art.  To quote Hollis about pricing art work, “If your art sells faster than it took to make it, double the price.”  Yeah, I like that one.  I don’t think I’ll forget it.  I never got a chance to ask if she would do the reverse if something did not sell for a long time.  All her work sells so she probably wouldn’t know about that.

Loucon 2014 020

So let me tell you about Loucon .  Loucon is a Church based summer camp for kids about 50 or 60 miles from my house. It’s out in the country, of course.  What kids summer camp isn’t someplace in a rural area?  The kids are back in school now so the camp rents cabins as a retreat center.  The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society booked a 3 day class and I just barely squeaked into it.  I was told I was the last remaining person on the waiting list.  I held out little hope of getting into the class.  I actually didn’t know about the class until last month but other people had booked spaces about a year ago.

I was put onto a waiting list of one, hoping against hope I would get to go.  I didn’t know how I would pay for it.  (No money)  I didn’t know how I would get there.  (No car) I didn’t know if I was even qualified to be in one of her classes. (No formal art degree)  All I knew was that this very famous person was going to be in Kentucky just a short distance away and I wanted to meet Hollis the person, not just Hollis the famous artist.  What? Why?

I’ll explain.  She does beautiful paintings and I know her classes are way out of my league.  I truly didn’t expect to take one class and come home ready to create masterpieces.  Ok, yeah I did have hopes but one class does not make an expert.  Next to her art my art is like a kinder gardener competing with a college professor who has lots of letters behind the name.  Names like Mr/Ms so-n-so,  phd, md, cme, or whatever.  I spent a lifetime living in a ghetto and she’s been all over the world.  She sells small art pieces for many thousands of dollars.  I usually earn around one dollar an hour for my work.  My art quilts have been given away free and I usually teach free.  In other words, our worlds are on opposite ends of each other.  Ghetto vs affluent.  But, we have one thing in common that I was hoping to get a chance to talk with her about.  Her art is sort of controversial or tree hugger style or something like that. Geeze, my mind can’t seem to find the right word to describe it.  Anyway, I really want to do some of that type art without offending anyone.

Art journey 2014 018

I want to convey my lifetime of living in poverty without people thinking that I’m just prejudiced.  I want my art to say “Hey, I live here in the ghetto too so why shouldn’t I create art from what I see everyday?” and not cause a riot.  For example, the little man quilt that I entered into the fair.  Yes, I did mean for it to make people laugh.  But, laugh at the absurdity of pants worn so low, not at the person who wore them.  Gosh, this really is extremely hard to explain.

Hollis did speak to me a minute after seeing the little man quilt.  What she said has helped me start putting into words how I want the public to see me as an artist and my art.  It will need a whole lot of polishing and for that I’ll probably ask the neighbors to help.  Here goes,

I am an old white Caucasian woman lady, living in a predominately young black African American neighborhood. I am a liberal democrat living in a conservative republican state.  Although I  do have very tightfisted frugal habits which makes me more like a conservative liberal?  Would that be a Re-pud-ocrat or a De-mol-ican?  Ha!  Figure that one out. My friends and neighbors all know that when we laugh, we are laughing together, not at or about each other.  I laugh with them, not at them.

Hey, by golly,  I just started writing an artist resume.  Imagine that!  Yeah, ok, I know it sounds ridiculous right now but it’s my blog and I can write what I want to write.  Don’t like it?  Stop reading it.  If I make fun art why not have a fun resume to go with it?

Loucon 2014 062

I have never seen people in terms of skin tones.  To me, people are just people.  Maybe that’s why I have so much trouble drawing realistic images.  I can’t figure out which crayon to use. So many colors from which to choose.  My neighbors often laugh when I say something and then I realize why they are laughing. Uh duh!  I forgot my skin is light and talked just like one of them. Yeah, they laugh when I forget I’m a senior instead of a first grader too.  I’m the neighborhood Nannie so everyone knows I would never intentionally do anything to cause hurt feelings.  I am trusted with house keys, pet feeding, children rescuing, money holding, and dependable for food when hungry.

I thank Hollis for helping me to start putting into words who I am and what I want to do.  Seriously though, my resume should reflect why my art includes so much of the neighborhood.  I’ll work on it.  The painting class?  Ok, painting fabric is really not my thing.  I have to be honest about that.  I may want to paint fabric sometime in the future but not now. Maybe when I’m comfortable drawing I’ll want to branch out into other mediums.

I understand about drawing lines.  Regardless of how a line is created it’s still just a line.  Only the instrument of drawing a line changes.  A thread line is no different from a pencil line or a paintbrush line or a crayon line.  It’s the combination of directions of lines, thickness of lines, and the negative space in between the lines that create art.  Create images?  Create realistic?  What-ev-ah.  I guess my next step should be to learn about creating lines and their combinations?

I do plan to write more posts about my trip.  I don’t want to put everything into one post because I’d be here for days just type talking.  It takes me a long time to write a post because I type, read, edit, and repeat time after time.  Even then I find myself hesitating to click the publish button.

Day at the fair

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Last Thursday, opening day of the fair, I was walking along looking at all the sights to be seen at the fair and smelling the tempting treats.  I turn the corner of a wall to head toward the quilting area….. whoosh!  I’m laying flat on my side in awful pain.  Pain so intense all I could do was close my eyes and pray for the pain to stop.  It took my breath away.  I had to lay there for a few minutes to let the pain ease up before I could even speak.  Pain in my right breast, yep the one I’ve had trouble with, took a full force blow when I hit the concrete.  Along with my knees, elbows, and hands.

What the heck just happened?  Well dang it, I simply wasn’t expecting there to be a big hole in the floor and big wires coming out of it.  Who would be dumb enough to put a hole in the floor and not put up a warning sign?  People are expecting to see the sights while walking around and not have to be looking down at the floor.  Unless, of course, you are walking around poo patties in the farm animal area.

Statefair 2014 092

The red cross station was just 15 feet from where I fell.   Two people helped me to my feet and into a wheel chair.  Two incident reports and four ice packs later I feel a little better.  I decide to take a different path to the quilts area.  I did insist that something be put over or around the hole in the floor.  A security guard found a sign large enough to keep people from falling and put it there.

Statefair 2014 093

I am bruised and sore.  My knees are purple, yellow, and green.  My elbows are blue and green.  My hands are blue, purple, and green.  Yeah, even my right breast is deep purple, yellow, and green.  The whole thing is in those colors.  I do have a mamo scheduled for Friday.  I’m hoping it won’t be so sore then.  If anything is wrong from the fall, it should show up in the test.  I’m pretty darned lucky that nothing got broken.  At my age I could have easily broken a bone or two.

Well, this year’s fair is a bust for me.  I’m taking my Ladybug one day before it’s over.  Probably Sunday, the last day, which is wrist band day.  Buy a band and ride all the rides as many times as you want.  That should keep her happy and I can set to watch.  Not looking forward to 98 degree temperatures though.  I’ll make sure I pack a cooler full of ice and water to take with us.

Umm, yeah

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This is one of my fair entries for this year.  I did retire in order to create art so I figured I might as well get started.  Click the photo to make it larger to get a better view.  I did take several photos of the quilt but every one of them came out looking blurred or washed out.  I think it might be all the white around the quilt.

Art journey 2014 018Here is a close up of the jeans.  I had a devil of a time getting the hopping foot to go over them enough to quilt it down.

Art journey 2014 023Here is the corresponding part on the other side.

Art journey 2014 022Here is the head and shoulders.

Art journey 2014 024Here is the other side.

Art journey 2014 025

Here is the writing at the bottom.

Art journey 2014 026So, what do you think?  Is this art?  Obviously I want to earn a living at making art, so would something like this actually sell?  For how much?  To who?  How would I find that buyer?  I have a lot to learn if I’m going to earn a living with art.

It’s going to take quite a bit of learning and testing to find my art voice.  A technique or style that is uniquely mine.  I don’t want to carbon copy the art of anyone else although learning from them will require me to use their patterns or supplies to learn the techniques.

Well, I could set here at the computer thinking and type talking about my future but there is another fair quilt waiting to get a hanging sleeve sewn onto it.  It must be finished today because my Ladybug is going to be here for the rest of the week and weekend.  The summer program has ended and school doesn’t start until next week.

SILs fair entry

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I’ve been working on finishing a couple of fair entry quilts.  This is my SILs quilt.  No matter how much I’ve tried to get her to finish a quilt earlier in the year, she always waits until the last minute to make one.

Art journey 2014 009I convinced her to use a fast circle lord panto which saved a great deal of time and time is very short.  These have to be turned in this weekend.  I set each line and let her move the machine.  The stylus kept her going straight.

Art journey 2014 010I did a pretty leaf and curl on the outside border.  That took me nearly a day because it still hurts my arm to move the machine for long periods of time.  I took frequent breaks.

Art journey 2014 012After the quilting was finished I sewed the binding and the hanging sleeve on it by hand.  I’ve asked her not to enter a quilt for next year.  Actually, I told her I would NOT finish another one for her.   She usually has me finishing her quilt because she procrastinates and then can’t do the work.  I really can’t do the work for her anymore either.  It’s time for me to concentrate on doing my own….. art.

I’m sewing the hanging sleeve on my quilts and I’ll write a separate post about them.

Art in my future

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Yes, I’ve finally fully retired from professional machine quilting.  Under doctor orders, I’m limited in the amount of time I can swing the heavy machine for quilting.  To continue full time quilting would damage my arm even further.

What now?  Well, I think it’s finally time for me to get serious about creating art.  What type art?  Cardboard art?  Textile art?  Drawing?  Painting?  Sculpture?  I love them all but I must choose what I wish to do most.  I still love the idea of creating portraits in fabric.  It would fulfill a lifelong dream of creating portraits.  Too late to learn to draw them but fabric would work.

About six years ago I took an online portrait class with Margaret Bucklew.  She is the wonderful person who agreed to have a class of only two people so I could take the class before my Christmas quilt rush season started.  In the six years since taking her class I have not created the first portrait quilt.  Not a single one.  Ugh!  I have actually taken her class twice and still not created one portrait quilt using her technique.

For me, quilting for customer commitments always took priority over everything else which left no time for creating.  I don’t have that problem anymore.  I’m fully retired from professional machine quilting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my customers like family.  Our lives are connected through the quilts.  I am going to miss them a lot.

for the fair

for the fair

I can’t blame my lack of creating solely on quilting for a living.  My neighbors have taken a lot of my time too.  In my neighborhood no one respects working at home as a “real” job.  Everyone believes because I am at home that I’m just like them.  To them, working at home means I don’t have to actually work.  The money just magically comes rolling in. The neighbors believe I set around watching tv and movies the same as they do because, of course, I wave my magic wand, push a button, and the quilts start magically cutting and sewing themselves together.

The neighbors believe I’m free to go gamble with them at the mere mention of going.  Bingo and casinos are very popular around here.  Um…. that doesn’t sound right but it’s true.  My neighbors are dependent on others for their life.  Food stamps, welfare, food banks, and social services of all types yet they find the money for gambling.  A few have menial jobs but the majority don’t.  Their logic is that since I’m home all day too I must be as dependent on social services as they are.  Therefore, I don’t have any work to do or deadlines to meet.  Strange logic but that’s life in the ghetto.  I live in the wrong neighborhood for entrepreneurship.  The neighbors see what my job is yet it doesn’t click that I’m actually working to earn a living.

another for the fair

another for the fair

I can’t machine quilt full time anymore and creating art is an alternative.  The pieces can be small and easily quilted which shouldn’t cause too much strain on my arm.  Creating art doesn’t have a deadline unless I plan to enter a contest or something.  Creating for my own pleasure can be on whatever schedule I set for myself.

I have been considering renting space in an art center not far away just so I can get away from the neighbors.  I believe it would also be a good atmosphere for me to relax.  My neighbors do understand leaving home everyday to go to work but they don’t understand working at home.  The place is called the Mellwood Art Center.  Click the link to check it out.  I used to work at that packing plant, in the bookkeeping department, before I started quilting for a living.

My retirement budget is very tight.  The rent for a space in an area away from heavy traffic on an upper floor is around $150 a month including utilities.  I really don’t need a fancy space although a window would be nice so I could have sunlight.  I just need a small room away from distractions to create in peace.

I wouldn’t need much stuff.  A few templates and rotary cutter, sewing machine, thread, design wall, a table, my bags of selvages, a bin of scrap fabrics, a lap top computer (when I can afford it), and that’s about it.  Basically I would be  creating a studio sewing space without the quilting machine.

and one more for the fair

and one more for the fair

Getting away from interrupting neighbors and being surrounded by artists sounds very appealing.  I could very easily be tempted to rush into renting a space.  I must keep my thinking realistic though.  I need a plan.  This time, succeed or fail, is my final attempt to create art.  I don’t want to rush because haste means making mistakes.  Take my time.  Enjoy the process.  Test out a few artistic techniques to find my own artistic voice.  Try not to embarrass myself too much when asking questions of teachers through email.  Yup, I did already, but that’s another story.

Time to get back to the fair entry quilts.  The days are going by very fast.


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