Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Art Inc, by Lisa Congdon–Book Review

Monday, August 27th, 2018

I love it when things come full circle.  I was reading a Studio Art Quilt Associates Friday e-Blast newsletter, which had a link to an article in the NYT about the 20 best books on business for artists. Let’s face it:  as an artist, we’d rather make art and not think about business.  But if you don’t, you may not be able to afford to stay an artist.  Book number 6 on the list is Art Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist by Lisa Congdon, whom I first came to know about because her mom,  Gerrie Congdon, is a textile artist and SAS Member.  Find Gerrie’s artwork here.  Find Lisa’s website (and further links to her Etsy, Instagram, FB and other social media presence) here.   Full circle!

Art Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist by Lisa Congdon.  Since she actually DID what she is talking about in this book, I believe her.  I also love that each chapter has an interview with an incredibly successful artist–from a very wide range of places and backgrounds and media–talking about things that pertain both to the chapter where they are included but also to life as a working artist no matter what.

I WISH I had had this book when I started out!   I was able to borrow it on interlibrary loan, but given the modest price, if you are anywhere near the start of your career, just buy it. Here’s the Table of Contents to give you an idea of the scope of this small but mighty book:

Table of contents for Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon, available on Amazon both in print as a Kindle book. 

I was actually delighted as I read through the first four chapters to say “check!  Done that!”  BUT I wish I had known about all this when I began.  I have learned a lot from other quilt artists, first on the QuiltArt listserv, then on Facebook as many of us migrated to social media, and then more from my peers in SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates).  But I felt validated that someone who took The Big Leap into being a full time professional artist was saying to do what I had done.   But the book also helped me now when I feel like I am sorta mid-career.  What do I do now, how can I better market my work and myself?  What goals do I have and how can I achieve them?  The chapters on selling, exhibiting, licensing and managing workload were GREAT.

As I was reading I thought…OK, let’s buckle down and start making a cohesive group of works–perhaps 12-20–for a themed exhibit of my work, then market it…..   So I now have a daunting goal, but I also have a goal–a specific thing I want to do.  Will I make it happen?  Who knows, but the only way to find out is to try.  And I can use some of the guidance in the latter half of this book to help me find out how to get from where I am to where I want to be.  You can’t ask much more from a book than that!

So, I am going to get a few smaller projects done, get ready to teach at International Quilt Festival in Houston again this fall, but while I’m working on those I’m going to start mapping out that series of works, thinking about how I want to present them, create them, and then get going!

 

 

My book reviewed in MQU!

Friday, 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!).

SaveSave

App2Applique by Dianne S. Hire

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Before I moved to Maine, I met Maine quilter Sally Field via the QuiltArt online quilt list; in fact, she is one of the ways we found our way to the Camden and Hope area!  After moving here, she kept telling me about her friend Dianne Hire, who lived maybe half an hour north of me.

Dianne’s Scrolls, on the right, is the quilt I began on this life-changing weekend.  Dianne Hire’s Yellow FraShizzle is on the left, and I have to giggle–I have that same plaid fabric! The book is APP-2-Applique, available here.  Just keep reading!

The second year (or thereabouts–circa 2006) that we were here in Maine, Dianne was scheduled to teach at Paul Smith’s Quilt Camp  in the Adirondacks (New York).  Alas, she injured her back–badly–just a couple days before.  She didn’t want to cancel on the venue and students, but she was on serious pain meds and couldn’t drive.  The quilters network went into overdrive, and to make a hectic 36 hours short, I ended up being able to take a week away from family, drive her to the camp, help her with the heavy lifting and schlepping of stuff (all quilt teachers know how much heavy lifting, literally, is involved!) and in exchange, get to take her classes and stay for free.  I met Dianne, then, for the first time as I went to pick her up to head out to camp.

That weekend was to become life-changing for me:  for the first time, I was on the teacher’s site of a retreat.  I met other quilt teachers and realized hey!  I teach locally now, I can do this.  That weekend is what led to me becoming a national level quilting teacher.   I had never thought of that, but this weekend opened my eyes, I saw a doorway, and off I went!

Fast forward many years:  Dianne’s APP is for Applique became a quilter’s favorite.  But she had (of course she did!) more ideas than could fit in one book.   After life happening (including back surgery) for her, she finally got to  put  more ideas into APP-2-Applique.  The book is so much fun–not only does it have great patterns, quilts by my local peeps (who are of course HER local peeps too), but it teaches you how to make your own designs, too.  Way cool!

APP 2 Applique by Dianne S. Hire–use the patterns or learn to design your own.

Dianne’s first class that weekend was the designs that became this book, and I was having so much fun, I just kept working on my quilt in her next classes.  And I have to say, it is a testament to Dianne’s goodness that despite the incredible pain (even with major pain killers) that she was unfailingly polite, gracious and kind to one and all that weekend.  Utterly amazing!

In the section on the Scrolls pattern, Dianne talks about selecting fabrics to make the scrollwork pop, how to prepare the pattern to get two blocks for the effort of one, and more.

And Dianne includes quilts by others to give you an idea of the many ways this design can be interpreted.

One of my favorite of Dianne’s quilts in this book is this colorful beauty!  Diane’s work is full of joyful color.

So I thank Dianne, for her friendship, for including my quilts in her books, for teaching, for showing me the way.  When the books arrived at her house, she called us all up and we ended up (a bunch of us published in the book) going to Dianne’s house for tea and signing the books–like autographing yearbooks.  I treasure being in this book with my friends!   Thank you, Dianne, for all you have done for me and shared with me.

Dianne’s Scrolls © Sarah Ann Smith. Published in APP-2-Applique by Dianne Hire.

 

Thermofax 101: Lyric Kinard’s new DVD Workshop

Friday, May 15th, 2015
Don't know that I've ever seen #1 come up before! Well done!

Don’t know that I’ve ever seen #1 come up before! Well done!

Update:  comments are now closed.  I used a random number generator and astonishingly, No. 1 came up!  So I will be contacting Susan to let her know.  Lyric will send the DVD out directly, as will I.

Well, you aren’t going to want to watch this once–you’ll want to watch it several times, at least!   I can’t believe how much Lyric has managed to pack into about 65 minutes of instruction on her new video workshop Thermofax 101:  screen printing made easy, from Lyric Art Publishing.  You can order it here, http://lyrickinard.com/2015/02/thermofax-101-instructional-dvd/ .  OR you can enter the giveaway–for both this DVD and my own Art Quilt Design: From Photo to Threadwork (here).  Read to the end to find out how.

Thermofax 101, Lyric Kinard's new DVD workshop, is totally worth getting.  I can't believe how much she packed in.  Plus, how can anyone not want to spend time with someone with enthusiam and a cute smile?

Thermofax 101, Lyric Kinard’s new DVD workshop, is totally worth getting. I can’t believe how much she packed in. Plus, how can anyone not want to spend time with someone with enthusiam and a cute smile?

I was thrilled when Lyric asked if I would like to be part of her bloghop.  Not only do I have fun running into her at various fun places like teaching at quilt shows around the country, in Houston, at Quilting Arts TV taping in Ohio, and admire her art (made while being an uber-busy mom) and teaching, I’m also getting more and more into my own surface design.  I tend to use surface design differently than many—-for most who are really “in” to it, the cloth is the end product.  For me, it is something that goes into my artwork as a supporting player, not the star of the show.  So I was curious to see the “hows” and how what she teaches would fit in with my somewhat different approach.   The answer is it’s a fabulous DVD!

I watched the video as soon as I got home from about 3 weeks of being on the road, and learned a lot on the first run-through.  But I was pretty obliterated by all that travel, so I figured I’d better watch it again:  my goodness gracious but there are more and more gems salted in throughout.

There are four segments:

1.  What’s a Thermofax, which tells you just that, explains how the machine works and how you prepare the screen for use, including advantages and disadvantages of both ways.

2.  Creating Imagery:  the key here is to play.  Only YOU can figure out what makes you happy, what makes you itch to get to the studio and create.  The best way to do that is to mess around.   And then Lyric gives you about a bazillion ideas.  For those really itching to get deep into how to create your imagery, this section may be frustratingly brief.  Honestly, that’s because you could have 100 hours of video, from 33 different instructors, and you’d barely scratch the surface (ahem….pun intended).

3.  Printing Techniques.  For the FIRST TIME I’ve seen someone explain WHY you want canvas/cloth on the top of a print surface, not plastic.  Makes total sense—-why has no one in all the books I have on printing EVER explained that simple, logical (once you’ve heard the explanation) fact?  It’s at about 21:20 in the video.  And I recommend chocolate pudding, re-purpose the dishwasher detergent.  You’ll get it if you see the video LOL!  Lyric also shows how to hold your squeegee (as well as explaining what kind of squeegee or stand-in object) to get the best print, including demo-ing to you can see from various angles.  Helpful!

Lyric talks about the kind of paint you want, and mentions her favorites, but wasn’t fond of Speedball or Versatex.  I agree on the Speedball, but quite like the Versatex.  To Lyric, she doesn’t care for the hand of the cloth.  However, I have liked it on the small pieces I have done.  It’s one of those “try it all (before buying a bunch of any one product) and see what you prefer” things!

 

For the nest piece, I took some pale beige batik, my Queen Anne's Lace stencil and paint to create this cloth, which I love so much I can see making yardage of this to use!

For the nest piece, I took some pale beige batik, my Queen Anne’s Lace thermofax screen and paint to create this cloth, which I love so much I can see making yardage of this to use!  You can buy  Sarah’s Thermofax Screens at Fiber on a Whim at Fiber on a Whim.  To read more about my “nest” please see this blogpost.

4.  Designing Cloth.  Throughout the DVD Lyric salts in bits of wisdom about various elements and principles (E&P) of design.  I was SO clueless when I began art quilting.  I then got lucky and took a class at a local community college/extension service while living in Friday Harbor.  Since then I’ve looked hard at things, studied them, to internalize the “E&P” of design.  As you work with them, you get better so you don’t need to look so hard, but Lyric brings them up in an integrated manner that will help you have better results, sooner.  And she shares a tip I discovered the long way around:  if you have a yucky piece of cloth, or don’t like what you did, just add more layers.  After all, is it going to get worse?  No.  And it might well get better.

You also get a PDF on the disc with

  • a list of supplies,
  • where to get screens made in the US, Canada, Australia, England and Germany
  • info on suppliers of machines, screens, frames, textile paints and surface design supplies
  • footnotes for each chapter with internet links
  • plus Lyric has some helpful free tutorials on her website that will supplement the information on the DVD

I wish I had had this video when I started out.  Some videos about printing are Graduate Student level, and overwhelm you.  Some are so basic you could have gleaned all the good stuff from a four-page (with lots of large photos) article.   Lyric’s is correctly titled Thermofax 101 (so Lyric, will you do a 301 or 401 for us too?); it’s aimed at the newbie.  But those of us who have been doing this a bit can still learn plenty.  So I’m going to go play, then in a month or two view my copy again.

To win a copy of this DVD AND a copy of MY DVD,

my video workshop that takes you from your photo to a finished art quilt

my video workshop that takes you from your photo to a finished art quilt

leave a comment by 7 a.m. May 21st East Coast Time.  I’ll use a random number generator and whoever left that comment (please keep it to one comment per person, please) will win both copies.  Lyric will mail hers out directly, as will I.  International entries are OK!

Check out the other reviews on this bloghop:

 

May 14   Deborah Boschert    http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com
May 13   Jamie Fingal http://JamieFingalDesigns.blogspot.com/  
May 12   Desiree Habicht  http://myclothesline.blogspot.com

May 11   Susan Brubaker Knapp  http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com
May 9    kathy york  http://aquamoonartquilts.blogspot.com
May 8    Carol Sloan  http://carolbsloan.blogspot.com

May 7    Liz Kettle  http://www.textileevolution.com/index.php/our-journey
May 6    Jane Davila  http://janedavila.blogspot.com
May 4    Linda Stokes  www.lindastokes-textileartist.com

May 2    Judy Coates Perez  http://www.judycoatesperez.com
May 1    Susan Price & Elizabeth Gibson  http://pgfiber2art.blogspot.com/
April 30  Judy Gula http://www.artisticartifacts.com/blog/

April 28   Sue Bleiweiss  http://www.suebleiweiss.com/blog/
April 27   Melanie Testa  http://melanietesta.com/blog/
April 25   Leslie Tucker Jennison  http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com
April 24   Cheryl Rezendez  http://www.cherylrezendes.com

 

 

 

Published in Inspirational Quotes Illustrated; More watercolor lettering with Val Webb

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Two years ago I was taking a lettering class online with the wonderful Val Webb.  One of the exercises was to choose and illustrate a quote.   Back then I wrote about it.  Then in late 2013 Lesley Riley put out a call for entries, North Light wanted to publish an expanded version of her self-published Quotes Illustrated.   The new book is called Inspirational Quotes Illustrated and is available at Amazon and directly from Lesley here (don’t forget to check out other good stuff from Lesley here).

Lesley's new book really is inspirational!

Lesley’s new book really is inspirational!

I have loved lettering since I was required to write with an Osmiroid Italic nib pen in junior high and high school (gotta love Catholic schools!), and I love reading and good quotes, and I love art.   All of these come together in this book.   There are some new-to-me quotes that may become favorites, there are some wonderful artists whose work I have admired included, some friends (waving at Deborah Boschert, Norina Morris and Jamie Fingal!) as well who are wonderful artists.

One of the things I really love is that the pages are perforated so you can easily remove a page to mat / frame and enjoy on the wall.  The page numbers are tucked into the center of the book and remain there–they aren’t on the part of the page that comes out to otherwise detract from the artwork should you wish to frame it.  Cool beans!

A two page spread featuring artwork by Jill K. Berry (left) and Holly Dean.  If you look closely in the center, you'll see a small bit of orange...

A two page spread featuring artwork by Jill K. Berry (left) and Holly Dean. If you look closely in the center, you’ll see a small bit of orange…

Gina Rossi's crow/raven takes my breath away!

Gina Rossi’s crow/raven takes my breath away!

And here's my page, on the right, with

And here’s my page, on the right, with a collage by Lesley Jacobs on the left.  If you right click this image, you can see the perforations and the page numbers in the center.

Original blogpost from February 8, 2013:

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison.  Class by Val Webb, more info here.

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison. Class by Val Webb, more info here.

Oh my but I am having fun.  Of course, it is also a ton of work to make a page like this one (it took all day), but if you had asked me when class began back in late November if I would be able to do this in just  a couple of months, I would have laughed!   But lookit!  I did it!   I can’t hardly believe it!  This lesson is what Val Webb (click here for her blog) calls “crazy quilt” lettering, with rolling lines and many colors and little bits of art insterspersed with the writing.   Fortunately, I’ve been a bit behind and have benefitted from Val’s constructive comments for others pieces before I got around to working on this.  I had the wit to send Val my “first draft” before I spent a ton of time painting only to discovered I should have done something different.

First draft of the Thomas Alva Edison quote.

First draft of the Thomas Alva Edison quote with the lettering going all the way across the page.

Val commented that when you have a wide motif in the center as with the overalls, it is hard for the eye to jump across to continue reading.  She suggested re-working the design to read as if it were two pages in a book.  Brilliant!  Took time, but I got it done.  Here’s the series of photos shoing my progress:

Testing out colors, letter shapes, and so on.  Since I live in Maine and the guys wear Carhartt overalls, I opted for the Carhartt color instead of old fashioned demin.  As you can see, I originally intended to do the letters in yellow, green and blue.

Testing out colors, letter shapes, and so on. Since I live in Maine and the guys wear Carhartt overalls, I opted for the Carhartt color instead of old fashioned demin. As you can see, I originally intended to do the letters in yellow, green and blue.  I also tested out a color for the silvery metal at the bottom of the light bulb, and getting a yellow fade for the light bulb.

Decorated Watercolor Lettering with Val Webb.  Working away at the dining room table.  I even managed to NOT blotch and drip or smudge! And I'm happy I was able to lift the color on the knees to make the fabric look faded and worn by work.

Working away at the dining room table. I even managed to NOT blotch and drip or smudge! And I’m happy I was able to lift the color on the knees to make the fabric look faded and worn by work.

The yellow and green letters are done, so I decided to break for a late lunch.  When I took the photo, I realized I had picked up the colors in the placemats I made, and decided I liked the idea of the warm plummy-red better than blue, so changed my color scheme.  So glad I did!

The yellow and green letters are done, so I decided to break for a late lunch. When I took the photo, I realized I had picked up the colors in the placemats I made, and decided I liked the idea of the warm plummy-red better than blue, so changed my color scheme. So glad I did!

And one more time, the photo from the top, repeated for comparison here:

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison.  Class by Val Webb, more info here.

Quote by Thomas Alva Edison. Class by Val Webb, more info here.

I like the way this turned out so much I am tempted to get a custom mat to fit into a standard sized frame and hang it in my studio!