Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Winter in Maine

Wednesday, 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!

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Go Tell it at the Quilt Show

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

A blast from the past..almost three years ago at International Quilt Festival Houston, 2014,  I was interviewed by the Save Our Stories project.   I was able to record a little about making the portrait of our son Eli during Cross Country season 2013.  The recording has finally been uploaded to the internet, so I thought I would share.  This quilt will also be in the upcoming Rising Stars exhibit which will feature the work of two artists, me and Karlyn Bue Lorenz.  I hope you enjoy this visit, and even more I hope I will get to see some of you at my exhibit of 24 of my pieces.

Retrospective book of my work–input sought!

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Hi folks!   I am in the midst of preparing a book of my work including the 24 pieces that will be in my part of the Rising Stars exhibit this coming fall at International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival Houston, as well as many of my other best pieces from the past decade and bits about my life and influences.  If you have experience selling books from either Blurb or CreateSpace (an Amazon company) let me know.  I am still undecided which platform to use.  I would dearly love your input, whether you have self-published or as a consumer.

 

Do I use Blurb? or Createspace? Where would you go to purchase… I’d have a link on my blog etc. to either option so folks who don’t attend Quilt Festival may also purchase a copy.

I feel the quality of the Premium Magazine at Blurb is definitely better than the book I can create through CreateSpace–I have copies of Blurb books, Blurb premium magazine (which you would never know is a “magazine” as it is exceptional quality–a teacher I know uses this for her books and it is excellent), and several books (exhibit catalogs) from CreateSpace.   I really really want top quality over profits on this, but I also would like folks to be able to purchase the book easily online.

With both platforms, I can select an 8 1/2 x 11  portrait format (vertical) so I can include large images with good detail shots.   For print quality, Blurb Premium “Magazine” wins and the cost (unlike Blurb books) is reasonable.  For customer ease and distribution, using Createspace on Amazon is better because Amazon takes a much lower percentage of the sales price is you use their platform.  What to do?

For international customers, absolutely the Amazon/CreateSpace option is better because it can be  on-demand printed from European Amazon sites, thereby reducing postage costs.  For those in the US, I can have it on my site and Amazon-or-Blurb, depending on my final decision. The Blurb “magazine” is better overall print and paper quality, the template software is superb, but even if I can manage to list it on Amazon, I would make almost nothing (less than a dollar probably) per copy to keep it in the affordable range.

Please let me know your thoughts!   Would you buy from Blurb?   Or do you vastly prefer Amazon?  Price would be $25-30 plus any shipping depending on final page count–I’m guesstimating 80 pages, but could be a bit more or a bit less.  My goal is to keep the price under $30.

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Speak Up, Speak Out

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Emerging briefly from the production tunnel to share my latest piece which, thankfully, I CAN share despite the fact I’ve entered it in the Threads of Resistance Call for Entries (Deadline in about 2-3 days)!  As many of you who have known me for a while know, I haven’t usually been politically involved or spoken out.  This is, in part, the legacy of being a federal employee, when you were not allowed to be political (there were ways you could do it, but it was such a fuss that it was easier just to NOT).   However, the last election cycle aggravated me so much I began making political posts and comments on Facebook and getting involved.   Even though I didn’t really have the time, when a group of art quilters got together with this exhibit concept and called for entries, I knew I wanted to try to make a piece.

Speak Up, Speak Out © Sarah Ann Smith 2017. Although the Women’s March imagery has become ubiquitous since the March, I decided to proceed with my concept because it was my experience.

It began during one of the debates last autumn (2016).  The then-Republican-candidate (I *refuse* to use his name) kept saying “Make America Great Again,” as if it weren’t great already!   I will be the first to say that we are an imperfect union, this great nation of ours, but that is part of why we are a great nation….or were and must recover from the collective idiocy currently gripping the country.  I started sketching during the debate and came up with two ideas for art quilts, one about Maine, one about our nation.  The latter was to have a border of hands, holding hands, and phrases and words that represented the US, but the center wasn’t yet clear to me.

With my soon-to-be daughter-in-law Ashley G., I traveled to the Women’s March on Washington on an overnight bus (overnight going and returning…LONG nights sitting up!).   I bought a cheap spiral notebook and asked riders on the bus, if they wished, to trace their hands so I could use them as the border in this piece.  Every hand traced is here (one twice, because I needed one more hand to make things fit properly).

At the March, I took many many photos and as the day wore on I knew that being in this sea of humanity, most in some sort of pink hat or cat ears (reference to the-one-who-shall-not-be-named joking that he would grab a woman by the pussy–slimeball! that’s sexual assault you jerk!) I had found my image for the center of the quilt.  The images of women and men marching, protesting peacefully (not a single arrest!), has since become ubiquitous.  So much so that I considered NOT doing this view because it has been seen.  But I decided that since I conceived of the quilt before the march and finalized during the day of the March as the images had barely first been seen on the internet, I decided that since it was also “my” March, I would proceed.

This photo became my starting point–it is the only photo I didn’t take (since I’m in it..someone on the street offered to snap pics for us):

Some of the ladies from the bus. We are on East Capitol Street heading toward the Capitol. Mainers were to wear blaze / hunter’s orange. I’m on the far right standing next to Ashley, who has her orange scarf on, and we’re wearing the hats I made us.  There is an odd aberration in the photo, but so it goes.  I printed this photo on the label.

Usually when you see photos of protest marches, so many of the signs are manufactured, a printed graphic done by someone professional (ish).  What impressed me about this March is that almost all–upwards of 95 percent–of the signs were homemade and many were clever and/or inspiring.   I selected my favorite ones and used them.  One of the signs in the quilt is the actual sign that I made and wore on my jacket during the March.

Left side of the quilt. I loved the sign calling for a return to civility, courtesy, charity and compassion.

In the sky above the marchers, surrounding the capitol dome, I quilted the Preamble to the US Constitution on the left.   Brief signs/slogans are under the hands at the top.  On the right I quilted the First Amendment’s four freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and right to redress the government for grievances (which is what we were doing!  Democracy living and in action!), as well as more slogans and thoughts.

There were three huge signs in the shape of cats, maybe 4 feet tall, so I appropriated one of them to use.

Center left. I LOVED the quote attributed to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (I think I am falling in love with that woman!) and made sure she really did say it before including “Better bitch than mouse” as one of the signs.

By the way, I used Fabrico felt tip pens and Pitt Artist pens (brush and bullet tip) for the signs.

When I graduated from Georgetown University (in DC) in 1979, a t-shirt was popular that said “A woman’s place is in the House, and in the Senate.”  At the time, no woman had been elected (or maybe just one or two…I’m thinking Margaret Chase Smith and Nancy Landon) to the Senate that had not gotten there by taking her late husband’s seat.  It was still common to be told that a woman’s place was in the home and the kitchen, not the office.  Now I’ve said “A Woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Oval Office!”

Center of the quilt. I was really pleased at how the dome turned out. I used my photo as my guide and sketched out the pattern, cut the shape (as usual I am using Mistyfuse on fabric and raw edge collage; the dome is a rare case of me using a print fabric instead of a batik. The peach-yellow hand on the left is my dyed fabric, the salmon-pink-purple on the right is Laura Wasilowski’s, from a fat quarter from a class I took with her.  The fabrics in the signs are mostly my hand-dyes.

The coat hanger sign is a combination of two such signs that I saw.   I loathe the idea of abortions. But when I was in my 20s, I was a US visa officer.   I was processing the paperwork for a British man’s visa based on his marriage to a US citizen.  When you do that, you need to establish that the marriage is legal and valid, so you need to see if there were any prior marriages and, if so, that they ended legally.  He was a widower.  To break the tedium, I used to look at cause of deaths when these cases came across my desk.  His first wife died of septicemia (blood poisoning) from a self-induced abortion (because it was illegal in the UK at that time). Ever since, I have stood for freedom of choice because there will ALWAYS be women who are that desperate, no matter how awful I or others believe abortion to be.  Moving on…back to the quilt.

Center right. I loved the take on the Don’t Tread on Me flag from revolutionary war times that turned the snake into a uterus and says Don’t Tread On Me (on left, on Laura Wasilowski’s fabric).  The big pink sign with Michelle Obama’s mantra is what I wore at the January 21, 2017 March on Washington.  That’s my DIL Ashley on the left in this photo, me on the right. I modified a sign carried by a Vermonter to read (in the sky writing) One Maine snowflake in a storm.

Center bottom right. A bit sharper photo.  In the bottom left, under the copyright, you can see a “ribbon.”  The center woman I think of as “Everywoman.”  Then there is Ashley (DIL) in braids, and me on the far right.  Ashley’s hand is the purple one at her right shoulder, mine is the blue one next to Ashley, one in from the corner.

Some generous unknown-to-me person who couldn’t go to DC made and gave away these ribbons to those from Maine who marched. It was done in the Mainer’s blaze/hunter orange. That was pretty bright for the front of my quilt, and I didn’t want it to distract from the imagery. So I scanned the ribbon into the computer, then in Photoshop darkened the color so that it would work visually on the front. THANK YOU whoever made these!

Far right. My friend Gail Galloway-Nicholson used to be the Curator for the Supreme Court so is as familiar with Capitol Hill as I am, if not more so from having worked there for a good bit of  her career..  I worked for a US Congressman for two years, and we also lived just two blocks behind the capitol (yes, I got to see our old house).  She asked me to carry her name in my pocket since she couldn’t go to the March. I did, and added the names of more friends (some I’ve only known via the internet and quilty stuff).  Thank you all for being there with me!   I love knowing you and that you wanted to be there in spirit and on the cloth!

So that is all the details, well, most of them, of what went into this quilt.  Don’t know if it will get juried in–I know there is some awesome art being made for this that doesn’t use the ubiquitous image–but I am glad I made it!

And I have decided to get involved volunteering for my Town of Hope, Maine.  I decided that one needs to put your time where your mouth is, and as the saying goes, all politics is local.   Here’s to giving back to my adopted-shoulda-been-born-here home state of Maine!

 

 

 

 

Published in Australia’s Quilters Companion!

Monday, January 9th, 2017

It’s been rather the international year for me, since my Milkweed No. 2 art quilt, in “a matter of time” exhibit curated by Australian Brenda Gael Smith (no relation alas!) has also been published in Quilters Companion, an Aussie magazine!

Cover of Quilters Companion; first line item on the red banner at the bottom is A Matter of Time.

Opening pages of the article.

and here’s “my” page, with my new friend and fellow exhibitor Mirjam Aigner.   I have to say I love the internet…how else would I have found this call for entry, sent my quilt off to the other side of the world to tour, and made new friends without having met them in person?

My Milkweed No. 2, on the left, and Mirjam Aigner’s multi-layered work on the right.

You’ll have to track down a copy of the magazine to see the other quilts.  I do miss the days when international postage wasn’t insane!  I used to subscribe to an Aussie and a New Zealand quilt magazine, but the  price became prohibitive.  But for an issue in which I’m published, yep, I’ll take that!