Words –> Power –> Action

February 22nd, 2018

Two and a half weeks ago, I came across a Jimmy Fallon re-working of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ on Facebook and Youtube (hear it here–really LISTEN to the lyrics).  I was so moved by it that I wanted to create a quilt based on the song, but realized there were all those pesky copyright issues with using Fallon’s lyrics, so instead I created this quick piece to capture the spirit of the re-worked song. I pretty much never just drop everything and make a quilt this rapidly, but I just had to do it. I have titled it Words –> Power –> Action because, as our mothers told us, words have power.  Over the past two years, the election cycle, the results, and the first year of the current Presidency, have galvanized many so many of us. I have changed.  Legions of us have changed.

Words–>Power–>Action, © 2018 SarahAnn Smith


As a US Foreign Service Officer, I was not allowed to participate in partisan politics (federal regulations) because our job was (and should be) to serve ALL Americans.  I was used to keeping my mouth shut.  As a national level quilting teacher and artist, I felt it was better to keep politics and religion out of the classroom (and still do), so I kept my mouth shut.  But the past 20+ months have convinced me that I must speak out.  My quilt about the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017 was my first overtly political quilt.

Speak Up, Speak Out © Sarah Ann Smith 2017.

I’ve been so distressed about the polarization and apparent lack of civility, compassion and understanding, of tolerance for differing views, that the past two years have been pretty depressing.  Our political climate has made me angry and galvanized me to take action and speak out.  Inspired by Fallon’s lyrics I went in search of quotes.  I’ll share all of them after each detail photo in which they appear.

I began like our nation, with revolutionary words from the US Declaration of Independence, which are written at the top of my brick wall (yes, I have the Pink Floyd lyrics “another brick in the wall” running on loop in my head, along with the phrase “the writing is on the wall”–I resisted the temptation to use that as a title!).  I dyed fabric to be a wall, using cold wax (from ProChem, and can’t find it any more on their website!) to create a resist for the mortar.  The backing is dyed cement grey.  The edges are raw, like my nerves and emotions (and those of so many others), torn on both the top and backing, with a tiny bit of batting peeking out and scruffed up.

The top portion of Words–>Power–>Action . There are more visible bits of words and phrases, and longer quotes written in lighter ink behind, as if they were fading graffiti.

Prominent phrases and quotes:

  • Speak Up, Speak Out
  • get woke
  • We the People
  • Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.  Barack Obama

Background quotes:

  • Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governedwhenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  US Declaration of Independence
  • We did not come to fear the future.  We came here to shape it.  B. Obama

Closer view of the center of Words–>Power–>Action with quilting that I hope simulates the rough texture of brick.

Center portion of Words–>Power–>Action

Prominent phrases and quotes:

  • Take a knee
  • Listen
  • Reach Out
  • #metoo
  • When they go low, we go high.  Michelle Obama

Background quote:

  • We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.  B. Obama

Center bottom of Words–>Power–>Action .

Bottom right of Words–>Power–>Action

Prominent phrases and quotes:

  • Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.  Hillary Clinton
  • Vote!  Get Involved
  • Courage can be contagious.  Michelle Obama
  • e  Pluribus Unum (for non-US readers, this phrase comes from our Founding Fathers and means out of Many, One which represents who we are as a nation, a government of the people, by the people and for the people)

Background quote:

  • here in America we are waging a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.  Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thanks for reading this far.  I hope you like it.





Inspiration in the Ordinary, links and sites

January 27th, 2018

Hi everyone!   Thanks so much to those of you who were able to attend my new lecture, Inspiration in the Ordinary.  Thank you so much to the many guest artists who allowed me to share their work in my lecture.  You’ll find them below, along with links to a couple apps that I mentioned in the lecture as well as website links to two exhibits and several books, including The Art of Sarah Ann Smith…so far.  

Street shots from Lowell, Massachusetts. All images (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Inspiration in the Ordinary                   A lecture by Sarah Ann Smith


Guest artists, apps and websites


Deborah Boschert



Kathy (Kate) Daniels


Louisa Enright



Bonnie K Hunter



Kristin La Flamme



Heather Pregger



Wendy Caton



Teri Sontra

Purple Moose Designs  https://www.purplemoosedesigns.com

  • Sandy Toes pattern is here https://www.purplemoosedesigns.com/product/sandy-toes/


Timna Tarr



Jim Vander Noot




Angela Walters



Websites and apps:


Pantone  app

Pic-Collage app

PicStitch app


The Art of Sarah Ann Smith, so far



Inspired by the National Parks




Threads of Resistance




Here’s a downloadable Inspiration in the Ordinary PDF of the information above.  Thanks again to all my visiting artists!



Inspiration in the Ordinary Lecture on Saturday, January 27 in Waterville, ME

January 26th, 2018

Hi all…quickly popping in to say HI!  I’m debuting my new lecture, Inspiration in the Ordinary, tomorrow at the Pine Tree Quilt Guild quarterly meeting in Waterville, ME.  To get directions, click here for more information.  Note, however, that the meeting has been moved down the hill to the auditorium.  Just look for where there are more cars parked!

From Sarah’s new lecture, Inspiration in the Ordinary. Many of you have seen my “dog walkies” photos…this is what inspires me, and a I’d like to inspire YOU.

Tomorrow I’ll have a follow up post with a PDF and links to the “visiting artists” websites, pattern links, information about apps, and the books mentioned in the lecture.   Hope to see many of you there!

And the last slide in the lecture


My book reviewed in MQU!

December 29th, 2017

What with the holidays, I hadn’t had time to sit down and savor the January/February issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine yet.  Then a copy arrived today in the mail in an envelope–which usually means it is a complementary copy because you’re in a magazine.  So I went looking: SQUEEE!  Diane Rusin Doran reviewed several books, including my book of the quilts featured in the Rising Stars Exhibit in Houston (and will also be at International Quilt Festival in Chicago) and other work to illustrate my development as an artist.  To order The Art of Sarah Ann Smith…so far go to my store page and follow the link to Blurb or go directly to Blurb.  If you’d like an autograph, the books are print-on-demand and ship directly to you, so if you send me a SASE (email me via my contact page to get my snail mail address) I’ll send you a personalized, autographed label and sticker to put in your book.

What a delightful way to close out 2017–a lovely review (and the first of the bunch reviewed) in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of MQU.  You’ll have to check the issue to read the entire review and see the other great books mentioned.  You can order individual issues and subscribe here, and MQU is also available at Barnes & Noble (yeah!).  


Thank you Diane and MQU for the shout out and great review.  It is always a privilege to be included in MQU!  I hope folks will now have time to sit and savor some inspiration and tips as winter sets in–at least today in Maine we got above zero–crazy cold even for Maine!

This is the issue with the review and lots of other eye candy.

The two page spread with reviews blurred–to respect MQU’s copyright. Please find a copy of the magazine (including at Barnes and Noble!).


Winter in Maine

December 20th, 2017

So as the frenetic 2017 winds down to a close, I thought I’d share some photographic inspiration from a recent dog walkies.  I’ve been largely absent from my blog, mostly because I’ve (a) been too busy and (b) been posting on Facebook, which is faster and easier than the blog.   But I figured I need to do at least a little bit of blogging.  Maybe I’ll ease in with a post a month, and see if I can get it up to two a month by spring?   Anyway, please enjoy the beauty of my world!

Let’s start with one of the most seasonal images. I love the shallow depth of focus. For non-photographers, that means adjusting the aperture, how far the lens opens, so that the berries are sharp and the woods are not.

A fence near the pond where I take sunset pictures during warmer times of the year. Sunset is now about 4 pm, so I don’t get over there at that time of day.

Selected for my photo challenge–this week’s theme was round. Mother Nature’s ornaments! Round is more than a circle or a ball. The apples, the tree trunk, the seasons going ‘round…. not to mention my obsession with lichen spreading out. Minor adjustments to clarity, shadows and red hue saturation to get it to look like the eye sees it.

My obsession with lichens continues… look at these subtle colors and textures and intricate shapes!

Another view of the berries. This run-off creek(shrouded in snow, trust me, there’s a creek under there) is at the back of our property if you were to walk up it a quarter mile or so into the woods. There it is flat and almost not there, but it picks up water from the two folds of the hill that border it on the way down to the road.

My friend Jenny Lyon loves grasses and has made some stunning art quilts of them. I think I’ve been channeling Jenny a bit, especially with the next photo. My friend Jacquie has teased me that I am doing a series of art quilts on weeds. She’s right–I love the wild bits of nature that creep into my world.

This photo is the one that most makes me think of Jenny’s work and her beautiful California garden (seen only in photos as we live about 2800 miles apart). This clump was transplanted when we built the garage because it was where they needed to trench for electricity. It has limped along since 2012, but finally this year is showing signs of perking up. Plus, just this year I finally learned what it is called (and it is written SOMEwhere…hope I can find it), so I plant to put in more. The fluffy tops cast the most glorious shadows on the snow when it is next to the porch and lit up at night.

Not the most riveting shot, but it is the beauty of my world as I see it from the house–at this angle I’d be in the kitchen at the sink though this was taken outside as immense snowflakes began to drift down.

And another scenic shot of a barn down on the street, about a half mile walking, perhaps 2/10 as the crow flies over the woods and neighbor’s lots. Appleton Ridge is in the distance, barely visible as the snow moves in.

Enjoy the season. Tomorrow is Solstice, when the sun begins to return and the days lengthen.  We will light candles to celebrate the return and look forward to a family weekend together!