Friday, December 15, 2017

The Art of a Selfie - Off the Wall Friday

SelfPortrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird , Frida Kahlo
Rembrandt, at about age 60
As the snow comes down outside my window, its getting to be that time of year for self reflection.  I always try to carve some time out at the end of year to look back at where I've been and get an idea of where I want to go.

That got me thinking about the idea of self reflection  . . . . onto the idea of reflection. . . .and our society's new fascination of the selfie.   But really is it new? I started thinking about how many artists spend time creating their own selfies and what that says about them.

Some artist create several portraits of themselves.  Rembrandt has over 90 of them.  Yes - 90!!  They create a type of autobiography of himself since he painted himself as he really was.

My favorite self portraits are the ones that really depict more about the inner artist than what the mirror reflects.  Case in point, Gustave Courbet's  The  Desperate Man manages to blend the romanticism style of the time (1845) with the very real emotional struggle he wanted to convey.  Its the kind of portrait that makes you want to look at over and over again.

The Desperate Man, Gustave Courbet

Rockwell's Triple Self Portrait

Another one of my favorites, is Norman Rockwell's Triple Self Portrait.  As always, its Rockwell's mixture of humor and relatable subjects that is so interesting.  This time its him at work.    Notice the artist self portraits in the upper right hand corner, showing that even Rockwell was inspired by other artists.  As his assistant will attest to most of the features of the piece are real on how the artist actually worked.  Really its the cleverness of a the triple reflection that is so intrigued me in this piece.

How about Andy Warhol's self portrait.  For a man who courted publicity and walk in the limelight, you can tell with his self portrait that he really was a deeply private man.  It's him but he's still camouflaged to plain view.

I really could go on.  There are a TON of amazing self portraits out there  - to inspire and reflect on.   I might just have to start thinking about making my own.  Until then I'll just have to content myself with this selfie taken with my sister Laura.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Off the Wall Friday

Friday, December 1, 2017

10 MORE Gifts Quilters Want - Off the Wall Friday

Its time for my annual "What to Buy a Quilter for Christmas" List.  You can read the first two years of the lists Here and Here.  I even made a list of what to buy a Creative Kid (all tried and true on my own creative kid).  So here are this year's selections!!

10 More Gifts Quilters Want for Christmas

1. A Big Cutting Mat - Having a big self healing cutting mat makes a quilter's life so much easier.  You can buy a couple of 24" by 36" ones but they also sell bigger ones and even CUSTOM ones!   Getting a custom made one for my studio table is still on my wish list!

2.  Color Pencil Case - Every quilter ends up with several sets of color pencils.  Want to make her  
life easier?  Buy her a case to put them in.  They have them made of all different materials and all different sizes.  I bought mine at Dick Blick.  Its made out of just regular nylon with several pages and holds A  LOT of pencils.

3.  Tracing Paper - Did you know that tracing paper comes in all sorts of sizes and rollsYessssss it does!! Now its not the sexiest of gifts but  having an assortment of sizes at my disposal has made my life easier.  I can't believe how much a roll can hold.. . . its like the "Loaves and Fishes" of tracing paper!

4Quilter's Planner - Although I have never successfully been able to use a planner, I think they are a fabulous idea.  A planner that is themed for quilters is a Really fabulous idea.  Now if I could just get myself disciplined enough to actually use it!

5. Class - There are a ton of great classes out there for your favorite quilter in all different price brackets.  You can give a $15 class from Craftsy, a several week class at Academy of Quilting, private classes from your favorite local teacher or the mother of all gifts - a week at a quilt conference like Quilting by the Lake.  My mother has more than once given me classes for presents and I LOVED them.  The gift of knowledge is one gives a lifetime.

6.  Audible Gift Card - I'm not a huge fan of gift cards because they aren't the most personal gift, but let's face it, they are practical.  With an Audible gift card, a quilter can pick out  her favorite book and listen to it while she sews.  For that matter you could give an Echo Dot  for her to listen to it on.

7.  Thread boxes - I love my thread boxes.  They have made my life so much easier and they are so much fun to paw through. I have two sizes, the slimline boxes for my small skinny spools and  ArtBin thread  boxes for my regular and medium spools.   Ohhhhhhh, and what's better than giving a a thread box??  Filling it with her favorite thread.  

By nancysJLifestyle

 8.  Etsy Creative Gifts - I love Etsy because the artisans there make gifts that I as an artisan really want.  This year I have my eye on a ring that is made out of a needle - yes - A NEEDLE.    You can find all sorts of things quilt themed including THIS GIFT for the quilter who has everything including a wicked sense of humor (Tessa and I are still debating whether that was intentional or not!)

What's On Your Christmas List This Year? 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankful for Off the Wall Friday

So I was going through my email this morning and noticed a new comment to my blog, and  it hit me -  Oh My Gosh.... I forgot Off the Wall Friday.  My only excuse was I cooked yesterday for my extended family and then fell promptly asleep!  Please forgive me!  On that note, I'll just host and get this up for the early Black Friday birds!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

5 Facts You Didn't know about Sewing With Nancy for Off the Wall Friday

Nancy Zieman, 1937-2017
This week we lost the host of Sewing with Nancy, Nancy Zieman to cancer.  Nancy was fundamental to my fascination with all things sewing since I started watching her show in high school and continued on to this day.  Even though at first I didn't sew, I loved watching Nancy with her easy going, peaceful approach to the craft.   Sew in honor to her, here are some interesting facts you might not have know about her.

Facts You Didn't Know About Sewing With Nancy Zieman
    1.  Sewing with Nancy first broadcasted in 1982 and was the longest running sewing television program of its kind (Over 800 episodes ).  The early episodes were filmed in her own home living room and broadcast on local cable tv.Nancy was much more than the Saturday morning sewing guru. 
2. She authored over 40 books (including an autobiography), designed notions for Clover Needlecraft Inc, designed a line of fabric and sewing patterns, authored an interactive blog, and founded Nancy's Notion catalog (which was always my go-to place to find the hard to find notions I wanted).
    3.  In 2001, she was the first elected member to the Sewing Hall of Fame (didn't know there was a Sewing Hall of Fame??  Me, either!!  
    4.  Nancy's face was partially paralyzed by Bell's Palsy which she developed due to an ear infection as a toddler.   She was always open about the condition and talked about it on her show. 
    5. Charity Projects were a heart felt passion with Nancy.  Not only did her and her husband Richard give quietly through the years, she also inspired others to give with her blog's page - Sew To Give where you can find several organizations to sew for.  Nancy often said, "The Gift is in the Giving". 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Craft VS Art - Off the Wall Friday

So I did manage to break out of my creative funk this week.  How?? Craftsy's Amish Medallion  Block of the Month.  I bought the kit on  a whim earlier this year.  I mean, gosh it was a really cute quilt with its traditional roots and neon colors and I thought it looked fun.  Plus you can't beat the price $77 which included all the fabric, pattern AND online class for this 90" by 90" quilt.  But it sat in the box in the corner until I decided enough is enough, I feel like having fun.  For once I thought I would give up control, follow someone else's pattern and just enjoy the feel of the fabric in my hands.  AND I'm loving it.  The directions are clear, the online class gets you over any rough patches and its coming nice and pretty. 

 I love block of the month quilts because usually they offer a new skill each month and I've been wanting to tighten up my traditional quilt making skills anyways.  PLUS it will be a nice quilt to get on my frame for the long winter ahead.

Still it brought to mind the  debate of Craft VS Art.  I mean, really am I a crafting quilter or an artist whose medium is fabric. And really what is Craft?  What is Art?

  • structured, definite form
  • duplicatable  forms 
  • born from the mind and practical need 
  • uses distinct practiced skill sets
  • appeals to viewer on a practical level
Mary Stori's Perfect  Your Hand Quilting
  • Unstructured and open ended
  • No definite form,
  • Based in emotion and a need for expression
  • uses innate and learned skills
  • appeals to the viewer on an emotional level

Just by looking at the characteristics of both you can see where quilts and quilters find themselves in the grey world between the two.  Quilts are practical and structured.  They are also pieces that are born on emotions and can speak to the viewer on a very visceral level.
So I thought for a long while now I've been exploring the emotional artist side of my quilting.  I thought it time to get back to the very practical side and practice the craft of it.  One could debate this until the last stitch is set.  But honestly, I'm just thankful that I've found a passion for a creative form that has the best of both world - the Art and the Craft.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Creativity Exercises - Off the Wall Friday

The days get shorter and darker and it seems like a cloud descends on me.  Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer once suggested to me that since I'm half Sicilian, its in my blood to seek the sun.  I'm not sure if she's right but I do get blue when the sky gets grey!  I've even had a little extra time on my hands lately and have I done something creative?  NO!  I'd rather sit and listen to the Harry Potter series on my Echo Dot!  Again!

So I thought I would come up with a list of Creativity Exercises that I could do when I needed a little shove nudge out of this descent of the dark day doldrums.  (See obviously this funk doesn't extend into my fascination with  annoying alliterations) . On that note I thought I would share what I came up with!!

A Collection of Cool Calisthenics for the Creatively Challenged
Squint Your Eyes - See the Values
  • Value Studies - Pick an inspirational picture from your collection.  Squint your eyes seeing the blobs of values.  Make a quick sketch coloring it in grey scale.
  •  Cut Ups/Glue Back - Take an interesting magazine picture.  Cut it up into big hunks.  Glue it back quickly together in a totally new composition.  Hang on design wall.  Repeat with a new one.
  • Draw A Sharpie Squiggle - With a regular pencil finish off the squiggle (or curve) into full fledged picture or composition.
  • Tackle Youtube - Watch an artist creating in an alternative medium or listen to a Ted Talk on Creativity.
  • Doodle - Use doodling to explore Line and texture.  Try different styles.  Try not lifting your pen.  Try not to self edit.
  • Go For A Walk - Take a familiar Path but this time really look closely at things around you.  See the beauty of where you live and explore the interesting compositions that you walk by everyday.  Take a camera to capture it.  
  • Play with PicMonkey - Pick a photo and just start playing with it- Crop it - Add Filters - Add Text  etc. etc.
  • Crank Up the Music - Now just draw, paint, fuse down what the music is saying to you without you thinking about it too much
  • Quote It - Take a favorite quote - Decorate it anyway you want - color, collage, etc  - send it to a friend
  • Analyses Art - dust off the art books you have and really look at what makes great art great.  Pick out focal points, name compositions, look at palettes 

So these are some off the top of my head.  DO YOU HAVE ANY?