Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

The Quilt Show–Sarah’s Episode!

Friday, April 12th, 2019

What a delight it was to be invited to tape a show for the Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson online “tv” show, The Quilt Show (TQS)! In the past I have taped for two seasons of Quilting Arts TV (on PBS) and did a video workshop for Interweave (Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork, available as a download), but TQS is on a whole other level of professionalism. It was filmed in the Comcast center near Denver…as you walked by the main office there was an entire cabinet of awards including a few Golden Globes! And to get it up front: THANK YOU ADELE Merrell for all these great photos and Gayle Schliemann from Bernina for a bunch more!

Intro segment with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims…yes, they color coordinate their tops with the guest’s outfit! My dress is a Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 9112
I was so excited that I was able to pull off my surprise gifts for Alex, Ricky, John and Justin: custom TQS aprons made with a thermofax screen I made for them (with behind the scenes help from Producer Shelly to help with a graphic and favorite colors for them).
After the intro we got together and everyone modeled their custom TQS aprons. Sorry folks, there are only four of these that exist, but I’m delighted they are already using them with other guests. I bought all cotton colored aprons on Amazon (where else?). If you like the milkweed design on mine, I am selling my custom screens on my website for a limited time (maybe six to 12 months) so you could make your own!
There are two guests taped each day–I had Saturday morning. They hang the quilts first as all the other prep begins, and well before the audience comes in. The lighting is SUPERB…both of the guests and the quilts. There are light colored walls behind the seat walls with bounce diffuser lights that reflect off the exterior studio walls to create a smooth even light, then each quilt has a spot…there wasn’t a single “hot spot” or deep dark area (unless it was intentional)

And a panorama shot…the detail isn’t great because of the re-sizing I had to do for the blog, but I am standing in the center of the audience area. There were four large quilts including this year’s BOM, Sizzle, then the door to the Green Room, a monitor, the areas of the set from the “brick” wall, seating area, gallery space. The big tables are all on rollers as is the longarm and Q20 so everything can be moved easily for each segment. Another monitor on the middle-right, the staff and guest cubbyhole is behind that wall, you can see a long light thing that is the longarm, then Alex’s quilt (which is gorgeous in person) and right bank of the audience seating. There are usually 50-70 guests for each show. Tickets are free but you must reserve in advance…check the TQS website for info.
Justin Shults, Ricky’s partner, consults with the team in an area to by one side of the set where they collect the guests’ “stuff” for the episodes and serves as staff work space. I love that they said “welcome to the family.” Everyone staying at the DoubleTree collects in the same zone of the restaurant for breakfast (travel, meals, hotel are on your own dime, but it is so worth it!) and eat together. It is a delightful way to get to know the crew and principals. Left to right: Lilo Bowman, Justin Shults, Mary Kay Davis and Katie. Justin is the guy coordinating things on the set while Shelly Heesacker, the Producer, is in the control room. They communicate by headsets.
This is pretty close to the image folks will see when the show airs online sometime this autumn.
And here’s what that looks like from the sidelines
Sarah Ann Smith visits The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims
My first segment was about using paint on cloth (and I now have custom paint kits available here) and using shrink fabric to make my sunflower quilt (a blogpost to come). Here Ricky and I reviewed what I brought and what we could fit into the 10-14 minute segment. While the guest and hosts review the segments, groups of folks from the audience are allowed to come up and see the quilts up close.
In the breaks between segments, John Anderson (Alex’s husband) keeps the audience entertained, shares quilts from upcoming guests and more. This one is at the end of the day when Ricky came to chat with the audience.

Rehearsing for the thread segment: Ricky, Alex, me and Mary Kay Davis taking a close up photo.
Thanks SO MUCH to Adele, who dresses the set, for taking a billion photos for me. I especially wanted this one from inside the control room that shows what a polished and complicated production this is. Producer Shelly Heesacker is in the bottom left and she crafts each episode and runs the show.
And a close up of the screens as I am taping my second segment, with Alex, on how I do my Threadwork.

After-taping shots: here, I am holding a photo by Chris Maher from the online Photo Critique Group–it is a mock movie poster, with Ricky, Justin and many of our classmates in the assorted cast and crew roles. Too much fun!
I made TQS screen prints on my hand-dyed fabric for the audience as a little gift. MAJOR thanks to Iris Karp of MistyFuse for donating a package of MF (which changed my life and makes what I do possible!!!!! and that is NO exaggeration) so I made up a pattern for the sunflower that I demonstrated on set.
Time for some portrait shots with my quilts…this was one of the best!
Going to use this one for my FB profile photo for a while…THANK YOU ADELE!
Question and Answer session with the audience (and you can see that fun dress!) after taping.

I have to say, I wasn’t all that nervous thanks to being UBER prepared and having done Quilting Arts before, but I was wired for sound LOL..by the time of the Q&A I was relaxed and ready to have even more fun sharing.

At the end of my segment saying “It’s a new day EVERY day,” the TQS motto. Can you tell we were having fun?!!!!


My episode will air sometime in late summer/autumn. Star Members of The Quilt Show will have the first view, then there will be one week where the episode will be free to everyone. I will be sure to post, but gosh there are so many wonderful guests that I am so glad I am a member–and did you know I joined the very first day TQS began: January 1, 2007? And now, here I am as a guest! WOOT! Life is GOOD!

Cross Pollination

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Sometimes you need to do something else. You totally love your main “thing” (in my case it is clearly art quilting), but you need a break. And sometimes, that makes your main “thing” even better. I’ve learned over the years that good design is good design, whether it is landscape, interiors, architecture, photography, painting, sculpture, apparel, the principles are the same. So I have taken online classes in drawing and photography and been enriched.

At least ten years ago, I sat down between Christmas and New Year’s desperate to do something creative. The boys were still pretty young so time was scarce. I grabbed a pile of magazines and started tearing out words and pictures and glued them into my sketchbook. That has become an annual tradition…at least most years. This year Widgeon decided he needed to see if the collage passed inspection. Happily, it merited a wag.

I don’t know if I’ve done it every single year, and some years — like this one — it was done in (late) January instead. But I like reading what words have called me to use them and seeing where my head was in a given moment.

This year, I made sure to add information about whose artwork or photo. As with most years, a lot of my fodder comes from Down East magazine. North by East is a monthly column, and in December they featured work by Ryan T Higgins, a Maine Children’s book author. I must now go to the Library and see what they have of his. I was also stunned to see the “Sarah” quote, obviously about another Sarah. I covered up the “big” before dreams, but otherwise I really liked it.
This page got pretty dense…but I liked the quote at the top (from an ad for something). I also liked the bit on the pink, but it was too much pink, so I covered it up. Using blocks of text upside down or sideways works. And I LOVE torn edges…LOVE LOVE LOVE…that exposed white framing the image or words. I also dug out my circle punches. Have some circles and a few squares.

I’ve also taken a number of outstanding art classes from Val Webb over the years, ranging from birds to children to faeries to animals, using pencil, ink, watercolor, colored pencil…I learn so much, both about materials and tools but more importantly about SEEING. Observing. I’ll never want to be a colored pencil artist, but taking birds in colored pencil with Val taught me about patience and layering. I found I now do that with dyes, with paints on cloth, with thread, in my art quilts. And this year I also took a brilliant course at Sketchbook Skool, Watercolor. I always want more watercolor!

Over the past 8 years or so I have learned about the difference between student grade and artist pigments, that using quality paper makes all the difference in the world, and using pure pigments and mixing your own (just like dyeing fabric!). I decided I needed to get a bit organized and SEE the actual colors painted out from each tube. I had bought some icky (Bienfang) cheap watercolor paper that I will never use for a finished anything, not even a class practice piece. So got out my “tag” punch and did a paint out of every tube I have. Then ordered two more tubes! In search of the perfect pink…..and replacing one teeny tiny tube that is almost done. Each tag has the name, code for the manufacturer, and the universal pigment code (PV 42 for example is Permanent Violet 42). Yes, you can go wwwwwaaaaayyyyyy down the rabbit hole with this stuff!
A good mail and watercolor day. Turns out quilting templates and rulers have lots of uses, of course we all know that! I saw the clamshell cases at Jetpens.com and couldn’t resist. When I went to order, I discovered I had left that awesome washi tape in my cart, so it had to come to me also. And then there are those two tubes of watercolor and some empty half pans. That’s another thing I learned: make your OWN palettes with your favorite colors, use magnetic tape that sticks to the bottom of the pan, put inside a palette or metal tin. And then I used my quilting rulers and circles to mark a grid in my notebook/sketchbook.

I used to have both my to-do-etc notebook and a sketchbook. I never had the one I wanted handy. So I said to heck with the cost, and bought a GOOD sketchbook and use that as my “everything” journal. I write lists, take notes at SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) meetings, suss out ideas for quilts, and sometimes even sketch or paint in it! Now I will start filling in the circles with words, quotes, ideas, images/sketches, may fill the white backgrounds with ink textures…we shall see!

So that’s what I’ve been doing…along with quilting. What about you? And here’s an end of the day/blogpost dog walks photo from yesterday:

Sunset from the bottom of our driveway.

Moments, Hours, Days, Autumn, a Book of Hours

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Happy Solstice to one and all…at last the days no longer get shorter! To celebrate and as a Christmas gift (whether you celebrate it or not, it’s a gift of the season) to one and all, I thought I’d share a video I recently uploaded and just shared with those on my Newsletter List. (To sign up for the newsletter, go to my home page and fill in the blanks—about once a month I’ll pop in with this ‘n that.)

Those who follow me on Facebook (here) will recognize this pond and view which is down the driveway and onto Ludwig Road, between two neighbors’ houses.

Recently, I’ve been taking some journaling and watercolor classes. Then, the Mid Coast (Maine) Book Arts group had an exhibit at the Camden Public Library. I was inspired by a book of hours on display, so BFF Kathy D. and I decided to make our own small accordion books. Below the still photo you’ll see my a video tour of the book, which I have titled “moments hours days autumn” to chronicle my life this past Autumn.

Beginning at 3:11 a.m. through to my evening ritual of sitting in my chair near my hubby’s chair, with the dog and a pile of books. You can see still shots of each page in my new Mixed Media gallery.

The left page is a quote, some by me, most by someone else. The right page is a watercolor, 5 x 5 inches. I figured I would mess things up, so it was better to do each separately, then glue them to the accordion “base” pages. On the back, I painted a single LONG (80 inches!) view that runs from winter to spring, summer and fall, back to winter, with the sky running from night, through morning, noon and afternoon, back to night. I used a dip pen and acrylic ink to write Strider’s Poem, by J.R.R. Tolkien, which has been a favorite since high school and whose meaning goes far beyond the Lord of the Rings saga.

I used Daniel Smith Watercolors, Stonehenge Aqua 140 lb. watercolor paper, Yes! paste glue, and both acrylic and fountain pen inks and a dip pen for all the lettering. The cover is made from my own hand-dyed fabric fused to mat-board from Kathy with Mistyfuse.

Here’s to hoping you all have friends (which can include family!) and joy around you throughout your lives, not just this season. I hope you enjoy my first ever made-by-me book. I think I will do more! Let me know what you think, and what you’d like to see in my new Newsletter. (And to sound like a broken record, sorry, sign up here.) MERRY MISTLETOE!

International Quilt Festival #1: Tuesday, Birch Pond Seasons

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Tuesday Morning looking at the George R. Brown Convention center from my hotel room, ready for the first day of teaching!

Before any more time elapses, it is time to blog about a wonderful International Quilt Festival 2018.   Since I have a billion photos, I’ll just insert images with little verbiage.   On Tuesday, I taught my Birch Pond Seasons class–because it was the day between Market and Festival, the class was smaller but that meant students had plenty of space to spread out and work, which is great for this class.  I love what my students did!   If you put Birch Pond Seasons in the search box for this blog, you can find one or two other posts about previous classes.

My stuff up on the foam core at the f front and students composing their quilts! The two class samples are on the right hand board, a summer and an autumn version.

Love how Cathryn Sullivan of Pipe Creek, TX, cut the ridge line with the shape of trees–her ridge is closer to the viewer than the hills in my quilts. See below for this quilt as she worked on it more.

And Kathryn’s piece with the closer hills and “woods behind the pond” added. LOVE the silhouette of the treetops!

I love when students use fabrics that aren’t in my wheelhouse and make it their own

The sky fabric was inspired! Love that she used purple for the distant hill. See her progress in the next photos.

She had this great watery fabric for the pond, but it just didn’t sit well for either of us

The brilliant students near her helped her trouble shoot with what fabric she had and they picked this one for the pond

Once the ground/foliage near the pond was in, it worked so much better — ponds reflect the color in the sky so it fit perfectly. The blue was great as water, just not in this composition where it kinda screamed. Mo Bettah!

More great water…this student had a gentle, subdued palette that spoke to her–and amazing blue batik for the water

Another version!

And one more

And towards the end of the day with more trees and ground blocked in

LOVED the fabrics for the sky!

Work in progress!

At some point during the day, friend Luana Rubin (half of the creative team with her hubby who founded eQuilter) popped in for a quick photo:

With Luana Rubin

Then, it was a quick dash to pack up, haul the suitcase and stuff back to my room, then go to the Awards ceremony and cheer on the winners, especially my quilty friends! 

Neroli Henderson, The Eternity Spiral, 

Heidi Profetty’s heart-warming mosaic quilt

Sue Bleiweiss, Graffiti 2

Jenny Bowker’s moving and astounding work

Andrea Brokenshire won one of the top eight awards and did what I’d do if I ever get so lucky–happy-danced her way up the stairs!

And Patty Kennedy-Zafred, SAQA member, blazing new ground for IQA with her Silent Canary

CONGRATS to everyone who entered, whether you got in or not…here’s to inspiring works!

Start Your Art Bloghop

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Hot off the press, Lyric Kinard’s Start Your Art deck of cards / prompts is available as an actual deck or a digital download. You can get it here

Art and quilt teacher and friend Lyric Kinard (website and Facebook and Instagram) delighted me recently when she asked if I’d like to be part of a bloghop to launch her new prompts deck of cards “Start Your Art: 48 Warm Up Exercises to Jumpstart Your Art”…of course!  I shared a sneak preview two weeks ago, here; In that post I shared an exercise done waiting for an appointment on my iPhone. This time it is the official bloghop and giveaway.  Read on to find out how to win a copy of the deck for your favorite art teacher and a digital copy for you!

Update:  Entry period is over and comment number 4 won!  Judy Tucker, get in touch!

The random number generator picked 4!

One of the great and cool things is that Lyric asks you to “Make Bad Art.”  Yup, it is OK to make bad art.  In fact, it is really useful!   There is a story that has been around for eons (and likely true many times over):  A college art teacher divided the class in half.  One half of the students only had to make ONE big project, but it had to be really, really good.  They could spend ALL their time making it their best.  The other half of the class had to make many, Many, MANY things.  Guess who made the best pieces?  The ones that had to make a lot of art.  As one woman I remember from an online chat group said years ago, “make crap (pardon the language). Then make more crap.”  Throw it away.  Keep making.  Then eventually you realize you’re doing better!

Since I have the digital version of the deck of cards, I just randomly clicked on several cards, selecting ones I could do from the comfort of my living room chair–after Houston I’m ready for some random creativity and fun that doesn’t require a lot of scrambling around.  What better than zero-calorie ice cream?  The prompt on p. 60 asks you to tell how to make a sandwich or other food, with no words.  This would be improved with color, but that would require going downstairs to my studio for pencils or watercolor so pen and ink it is!

One prompt is to draw how to make a sandwich or other food with no words. Why have a sandwich when you can have an ice cream sundae?  Notice the happy me?

Another exercise is a variation on the theme of doing a value scale..how many types of marks and ways to create boxes of different value (light to dark) can you create?   Think of doing this with thread on the top of a quilt…..ways to change the color of the cloth underneath!

How to make a value scale….p. 39

And one of my favorite exercises–start with a snippet of something and make it different.  Lyric asks you to start with a copy of a favorite piece of art, but I used the version I teach in my design class:  take a magazine page and select a portion of it.

The original advertisement page from British Country Living.

And here’s a portion of it and my Bad Art.  I was doing OK until I put in one of those checkerboard things on the left side.  Ugh.  Too heavy.  So I had to add some more to balance it out…..

A fun ramble and play in front of the TV last night!  Most of it I don’t like, but I do like the way I did the leaves and love that “dropped spaghetti” railing from the photo that I extended on both sides.  Fun motif–either as a thermofax screen to put paint on cloth or as a quilting or hand stitching motif, or just improv piecing!   See….you make bad art, the brain starts pinging, and you get more and more ideas!

 

Lyric is offering a real-life deck of Start Your Art Cards to be given to your favorite Art teacher.  To enter to win this deck on behalf of your favorite teacher and a digital copy of the deck for you, leave a comment below sharing memories of your favorite art teacher.  On November 21 Lyric will randomly select a winner and work with you to ship the real-life deck to your favorite art teacher. Please be sure to leave a CORRECT email address so we can reach you if you win!

And if you’d like to play and support an artist (namely Lyric) go HERE to order them directly from her!

Perhaps most fun of all, SHARE your art from Start Your Art here on the Start Your Art Facebook page right here.