Photography with Ricky Tims

January 31st, 2015

ERK!  Gosh it has been a LONG TIME.  I’m sorry!   I didn’t realize I hadn’t been here in so long.  As you might gather by my extended absence, I’ve been busy.  I’ve been prepping a new workshop that will debut in full in North Carolina in April (see my Teaching/Classes page for the workshop listing)–email me if you need a link to sign up, they’ve got an awesome online system, did a test-run of the class with a local group, have been working on a bazillion samples and writing an article for MQU (Machine Quilting Unlimited), did a quick trip to California because I’m now on San Domenico School’s (my old high school) Alumni Council

The lesson for Week 4 is to get a photo that is "sharp as a tack."

The lesson for Week 4 is to get a photo that is “sharp as a tack.”

AND …..ta daaaaaaAAAAA drum roll…. taking an online year-long workshop with Ricky Tims to improve my photography, Photoshop and Lightroom skills (the latter two were non-existent and I’ve improved to rank beginner).  So today I’ll share about week 4 of Ricky’s Photography class. In the next week or two I’ll get you caught up on the rest!

Earlier weeks focused (pun intended) on Selective Focus, Find a Line, and Windows.  We’ve also learned about organizing in Lightroom, using Photoshop, getting our copyright information into the metadata (basically digitally encoding it into the image so that if someone tries to remove the visible watermark, the copyright stuff is still embedded into the digital file/info..don’t ask me how, that is way above my pay grade!).

This shot was (duh) indoors, before I went out.  I think of this as "chaos, clutter, artist at work."  I've also taken some sketchbook courses online over the past year, and am learning to work more with watercolors.  I want to loosen up, have my art quilts be a bit more spontaneous (well, everything in my life pretty much could benefit from me being less of a control-freak).

This shot was (duh) indoors, before I went out. I think of this as “chaos, clutter, artist at work.” I’ve also taken some sketchbook courses online over the past year, and am learning to work more with watercolors. I want to loosen up, have my art quilts be a bit more spontaneous (well, everything in my life pretty much could benefit from me being less of a control-freak). Anyway, this photo is “tack sharp” from the closest edge the window and even into the view.  It was challenging because of the brightness outside, so I had to lighten the interior in Photoshop.

Since I’ve been crazy busy, I didn’t get out early enough this week to get the shot I wanted.   I got home from California between two storms, thankfully.  I got in before the “Big” Blizzard early in the week that dumped about 0-4 feet of snow—drifts around the house made it nearly impossible to figure how much we actually got.   Then yesterday, Friday, it started snowing again.  So I went out in the snowfall before it got too windy and thick to take pictures.  And took a few indoors, as well.  Eli will be pleased that I did NOT share the one of these with him trying to get out of camera range!

I totally love our view and took many photos.  I also learned a few things (some of which I knew but had forgotten) about taking pictures in "weather."

I totally love our view and took many photos. I also learned a few things (some of which I knew but had forgotten) about taking pictures in “weather.”  This is standing near the top of our driveway, looking down to the neighbors.  Our driveway is just this side of the line of dark green pines that partially obscure the neighbor’s house.

As for photography in weather,

  1. –a plastic bag around the camera  keeps it from getting wet from  melting snow
  2. –a lens hood to keep snow off the lens would have been a brilliant addition.  Next time.
  3. –a cloth (lens or cotton or linen) to wipe off the wet-from-snow lens would be good, too.  Fleece (my preferred garments in winter) don’t soak up enough water!
  4. –it is impossible to feel the timer button on the camera in gloves.  Why a timer?  Even with a tripod, if you are going to have a slow shutter speed (1/40 second or slower), using a timer helps avoid any wigging of the camera.  So gloves came off.
  5. –even if it is relatively warm for winter and snow (28 F, or about -1/2 C), even my fingers eventually get cold!
Looking West-Northwest to the pergola/walk-through to the big meadow.  There was a falling down fence when we moved in 4 years ago that is now pretty much fallen, but the posts are good snow-depth markers.

Looking West-Northwest to the pergola/walk-through to the big meadow. There was a falling down fence when we moved in 4 years ago that is now pretty much fallen, but the posts are good snow-depth markers.  I LOVE how you can see the streaks of snow falling in this shot…look above the pergola infant of the big tree.

A VERY large old apple tree (apples taste like yuck, but the deer and turkeys like them) and a huge birch tree on the stone wall/hedgerow between the big meadow and the downhill meadow.  Meadow is codeword for big open space that we don't mow but once or twice a season.

A VERY large old apple tree (apples taste like yuck, but the deer and turkeys like them) and a huge birch tree on the stone wall/hedgerow between the big meadow and the downhill meadow. Meadow is codeword for big open space that we don’t mow but once or twice a season.  This is where a cloth to wipe the lens would have been really useful.  But I like the photo so much even with the blots on it that I’m sharing.

The trees and scrub at the bottom of the big meadow; the driveway is to the right of these.

The trees and scrub at the bottom of the big meadow; the driveway is to the right of these.  Again, going for sharp through the entire depth of field–at least as sharp as the atmospheric conditions allowed.   Taken, as are all of these, on a tripod.

Eli is the only one (so far) to have tried out my Christmas snowshoes.  Got a quick snap of him going by just on the bottom side of the driveway--pretty much along the property line.

Eli is the only one (so far) to have tried out my Christmas snowshoes. Got a quick snap of him going by just on the bottom side of the driveway–pretty much along the property line.

So now I need to get to work in the studio…more samples to make for articles and classes!  Hopefully I won’t be AWOL for a month (absent without leave) before I get back and blog again!

 

 

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

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!

 

 

 

 

Looking back, looking forward

December 31st, 2014

What a year it has been and what an end of a year–have come down with a sinus infection after Christmas.   But while I was putting things together for the family Christmas newsletter, I decided to browse my blog to remember what had happened.  Of course I remembered Eli going to wrestling camp and our big trip to England, but it felt like I really hadn’t accomplished much art-quilt-wise.  It appears my memory was faulty–what a year!

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  First major presentation in public at lecture, Tuesday, How Did She Do That?

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  In the Studio Art Quilt Associates exhibit Food for Thought.

  1. My line of Thermofax screens came out with Fiber on a Whim!  Blogged about them here and here, and you can buy them here.

  2. Two of Us–I was in the Beatles exhibit quilt and in the book! Blogged here, find the book here.

  3. Amaryllis quilt made and touring Australia and New Zealand in the Living Colour Textiles exhibit.  Blogged here; website for the exhibit here.

  4. Eli, Cross-Country 2013 quilt made for the Dinner@8 Reflections exhibit with the IQA shows.  Blogpost here; website for the exhibit here.

  5. Mr. Wiggles does the Circle Dance made and included in the traveling portion of Dare to Dance exhibit and book.  Blogpost here and here, and book here.

  6. Many articles for MQU / Machine Quilting Unlimited on various aspects of machine quilting.  I have to say I subscribe to this magazine and it is one that I read cover to cover each and every issue! There were lots of posts over the past two years, so I won’t put them all here, but here’s one about maintaining your machine.  Here’s the MQUmag.com website.  If I had to cut my magazine subscriptions down to 3, this would be one that I’d keep.

  7. QA TV–on PBS in three segments of Quilting Arts TV talking about needle and thread, quilting, and my easy-peasy inside-out bag!  Me?  On TV?   Here are a few blogposts here and here and here and a link to Series 1400 at the Interweave Store. If you want to shop at Interweave, use the link at the left of my blog for a discount on some items.  Thanks so much to my friend Susan Brubaker Knapp who was tapped to be the new host (and wonderful she is!) and Vivika Hansen DeNegre, editor of Quilting Arts magazine.

  8. Three works in the  Quilt Essentials book, a new book that covers the full range of quilting, geared at newcomers to the art and craft of quilting, published out of England.  Blogpost here and for sale here.

  9. Insalata, my latest piece, has been juried into on of SAQA – Studio Art Quilt Associates — exhibits, Food for Thought.  Apparently, I’ve been SO busy I forgot to blog about finishing the quilt and getting it submitted!   I’ve tried many times, but this is the first time I’ve made it into a SAQA exhibit. My blogpost about the quilt in progress here.   The quilt is at the top of this post! I’ll add Insalata to my list of “Things I need to blog about!”

  10. I was lucky to attend, teach and lecture at International Quilt Festival, Houston, again this year.  For me, this show is the biggest and best show in the US, and I am  privileged to be able to teach there.  It is so much fun to have returning students in my classes!

  11. Our oldest son graduated and I actually made and gave him his graduation quilt within a few months of the event!   He and his girlfriend looked SO CUTE when they wrapped up in it in our living room.  Blogpost here.  It’s a whopper:  87 x 97 inches of riotous color!

  12. New workshops in development–I’ve got two new workshops/classes well under way.  The first is an a la carte series of classes called Quilting the Good Life, where guilds can pick from one to five days of classes that begin with a fused, collaged flower (Quilting the Garden), a second day to develop one’s own photo into an art quilt, a one or two-day quilting class for thread-coloring / quilting the piece, or turn it into a five day workshop including all of the above with extra time to work on the piece with my help.  The second workshop is using thermofax screens and other surface design techniques inspired by the mini-workshop I did in the Fiber on a Whim booth in Houston this fall, blogpost here.  I’ll blog more about these when they debut. 

  13. QA Holidays issue:  the easy peasy inside out bag and card holders I demonstrated on Quilting Arts TV were included as patterns in the annual Holiday issue!

  14. England trip–there are many blogposts and more still to come for this once in a lifetime trip.  How wondrous is it that a 16 year old teenager wanted to go with his Mom to England? 

  15. 500 traditional quilts book—I’m known as an art quilter, but I love traditional quilts.  I was thrilled to have 3 quilts included in this book juried by Karey Patterson Bresenhan and have 2 on display at the 2014 International Quilt festival in Houston in the exhibit of selected quilts from the book.   Blogpost here.

  16. Planting 300+ daffodil and tulip bulbs with my family!  Nearly 30 years ago we lived in DC on Capitol Hill.  One row house had a small front garden that was wall-to-wall tulips in spring.  I’ve always wanted to do something similar with daffodils….. have those joyous blooms spilling down a hillside.  Well, we have the hill, and in spring we should have the flowers.  I ordered about 100 tulips and 250 daffodils.   I have a feeling I will want to add a hundred more bulbs every autumn until I have my cascade of daffodils!  Blogpost here.

  17. Dog walkies—inspired by Susan Brubaker Knapp’s daily beauty photos, I have been documenting my little world on dog walkies with our beloved pug.  I post the pictures on Facebook, though get them shared here sometimes, too.   If you aren’t already a friend on FB, please do visit me here and send a request!

  18. Not enough exercise–well, something had to go, and clearly I should re-prioritize and get myself back in some sort of shape.  Hope springs eternal?

  19. Janome 15000, in Janome ads w/banner:  to my utter astonishment and delight, Janome America has sponsored me with a machine for nearly a decade now.   In exchange, I do projects for them and try to repay their kindness and generosity by talking about the features of the machine (which are fabulous and I would say that even if I DIDN’T get to use one for free).  This year they –GASP, and yes I seriously upgraded my business insurance to cover the cost of this machine– lent me a top of the line Janome 15000.  And they used a banner I made for them in their national ads, blogpost here.  Thank you Janome America!

  20. And last but not least by any  means, I am now published with a NON textile artwork in Lesley Riley’s Inspirational Quotes Illustrated.    And in another how-did-I-not-Blog-about-that-yet moment, I will prepare a blogpost to publish tomorrow with pictures of the book and my piece in it!  You can buy the book here.  And I will say, I almost never have TWO of a book, but this one is so cool because you can remove pages to go on the wall, so I am keeping my autographed-by-Lesley copy intact and bought another to take out pages for posting on my design wall as inspiration.

So that was one heck of year–and here I thought I hadn’t done much.  What a wonder!

 

 

Whooosh! And MERRY CHRISTMAS!

December 24th, 2014

And to those of you don’t celebrate Christmas, Merry Mistletoe!  We can all do with a hug and a smooch, including pug smooches.   Just checking in briefly to say hullo, thank you and whatnot.  Can’t believe it has been a week and a half since my last post.  Can you say BUSY?  First and foremost, though, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who read this blog.  I am still astounded that there are people who read my blog and  know who I am!   I’m just plain old me, I putter in my sewing room, and blather on here and there, so thank you from the bottom of my seriously-thread-linty heart!

Christmas Tableaux, made for my alma mater, San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California

Christmas Tableaux, made for my alma mater, San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California.  Right click to view larger.

Widgeon sends smooches to the universe.  Makes me realize that perhaps, if the world were as friendly as a pug, it would be a better place.

Smooches and adorable eyes from the pug to the universe

Smooches and adorable eyes from the pug to the universe.

I made a few ornaments again this year, once again using the beautiful ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons as my inspiration.  I bought the wool felt up at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, Maine, and stitched the mistletoe in either two or six strands of floss, then used perle cotton for the big-stitching on the edge.

This year's ornament with ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons.

This year’s ornament with ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons.

 

 

 

 

 

And to close, of course the Christmas tree.   Thumper decided to grace us with her presence.   I expect there is at least one other cat asleep under the tree.  So far, none IN the tree.

 

 

So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Our tree, 2014.

Our tree, 2014.

International Quilt Market and Festival, Monday/Tuesday

December 12th, 2014
SWOON! This year was the 40th anniversary (the ruby anniversary) of the International Quilt Festival, and the 35th Anniversary of the (wholesale, to the trade) International Quilt Market.

SWOON! This year was the 40th anniversary (the ruby anniversary) of the International Quilt Festival, and the 35th Anniversary of the (wholesale, to the trade) International Quilt Market.

This year absolutely was the biggest and best Festival I’ve seen, with true exhibits (not just husband’s lounge and charitable booths) all the way to the far wall.   And at the main doors, this display inspired by the phenomenal red and white exhibit in New York city a couple years ago.

One of the best things this year didn’t happen to me, but to Barb Black.  Barb greets all the teachers in the Teacher’s Room when you arrive, gives you your schedule, room assignments, paperwork, marching orders, goodie bag, solves problems and is just generally wonderful to us.   Well, Barb made a red and white quilt.   And HER QUILT was selected to be the theme quilt for this year’s show, on the entrance signage, banners in downtown Houston, on the show bag, and on display front and center right as you walked in.  I could SWEAR I took photos, but I can’t find them, so you’ll just have to enjoy her quilt on my bag (and I KNOW I took pics from the back side to see the quilting!).  I tell you, there were teachers all over the planet whooping it up because “OUR Barb” was on the bag!

Barb Black's beautiful red and white quilt on the 40th Anniversary International Quilt Festival show bag.  GO BARB!

Barb Black’s beautiful red and white quilt on the 40th Anniversary International Quilt Festival show bag. GO BARB!

And just for fun, here’s a peek into the teacher’s room.  The whole back wall is FILLED with boxes the teachers ship from all over the world to the Teacher’s Room with kit supplies, things to sell, handouts, you name it.  The area is organized alphabetically, so the first thing you do after checking in with  Barb is go find your boxes!

Teacher boxes

Teacher boxes…my stuff was at the far end.  I can tell this is early in the week because the boxes are still shut!

On Monday, I taught my intro class Let’s Machine Quilt.

The students were stupendous.  Here are some samples of the work the students did in class, and most professed to be rank beginners.  I thought they did a great job!

The students were stupendous. Here are some samples of the work the students did in class, and most professed to be rank beginners. I thought they did a great job!

Here's the class hard at work, with my samples up on the foam core boards at the front.

Here’s the class hard at work, with my samples up on the foam core boards at the front.

More student work--you really can write your own name!

More student work–you really can write your own name!

And yet another sample.

And yet another sample.

This year I wasn't in a Janome room, but was in Bernina instead (no idea why).  We had a WONDERFUL Bernina helper, the nice lady in the tray hair and dark top.

This year I wasn’t in a Janome room, but was in Bernina instead (no idea why). We had a WONDERFUL Bernina helper, the nice lady in the tray hair and dark top at showing how to thread the machine.

This is a fun exercise...quilting along a line and the other one no one ever believes will work, but does:  "driving" through the intersections.

This is a fun exercise…quilting along a line and the other one no one ever believes will work, but does: “driving” through the intersections.

On Tuesday, I gave an 11 am lecture, How Did She do That?  This talk is essentially a digital trunk show with some live quilts, telling folks “how I did that.”  I love giving it, and change it up at pretty much each venue.   Since Tuesday is the day AFTER Market ends and the day before Festival begins, most folks are traveling or in classes during that time so the crowd was small, but it went well.  Since my talk was the middle of the day, I couldn’t head out to museum-hop or shop in Houston, so I attended Pam Holliday’s lecture, which was just before mine.

Pam Holliday's quilt of her cat

Pam Holliday’s quilt of her cat

And this GLORIOUS quilt based on Pam's photography (she's an amazing photographer, too).  Shot taken during her lecture.

And this GLORIOUS quilt based on Pam’s photography (she’s an amazing photographer, too). Shot taken during her lecture.

And of course you run into friends:

With Luana Rubin of eQuilter, whom I first met at Festival in 2003!

With Luana Rubin of eQuilter, whom I first met at Festival in 2003!  Luana always looks so lovely!

I discovered that I needed something for my Wednesday class, so after my talk I walked up to a RiteAid a half mile or so away.  On the way back I spotted this and had to take a picture:

Inspiration is everywhere....

Inspiration is everywhere….got any idea what it is?

A wall inside an office-building!

The lobby

The lobby–the grain,m the texture of the stone reminded me of the froth on waves.

Next post will cover my Birch Pond Seasons class, which I’ll be teaching next at Maine Quilts 2015 here in Maine !