Posts tagged creatives

Around the World


Last year in Houston at Quilt Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting Marilyn Wall. I had admired her work for some time and was excited to meet her. She was attending with an old friend of mine, Denny Webster, who had recently moved from Atlanta to North Carolina.

Marilyn asked me recently if I was interested in participating in the Around the World blog hop. I’ve never done one of these before, but it’s essentially a way for bloggers to promote each other. Marilyn nominated me and another blogger — and I’m supposed to nominate a couple of other bloggers. Hmmmm. Most of the bloggers I know have already participated in this blog hop — and quite frankly, life has been very full around here recently.

BUT — what I CAN do is introduce a few things about me that you might not know.

What quilting/sewing thing am I working on?

If you follow my blog at all, you see what I’m working on. Right now, in my studio, I’ve been cutting out a portrait — I’m working on the hair right now. I’ll blog post about the face later this week. It’s my intention to enter this one in the National Portrait Gallery competition and hope it at least makes it to the semi-finals. Hope springs eternal. And in a little over a week, I’m traveling to Quilt Festival in Houston to step out in the Winner’s Circle and find out what my prize will be. I’m starting to feel butterflies in my stomach.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is an interesting question. I started making representative patterns because I enjoyed the process, and my first series of portraits were all monochromatic color studies. Once I moved to Georgia and no longer had a wet studio, I was forced to begin considering commercial prints in portraits, and in this, I was definitely influenced by Deidre Scherer. I studied how she used patterns to her advantage rather than seeing them as an obstacle. I also studied Charlotte Warr Andersen, although all of her faces were made with solids. In the end, I made what I wanted to make. The norm at the time in fabric portraiture was not detail but rather obscurity — the side of the face or the back of the head, a closed mouth, a limited value range. I challenged myself to do teeth, to suggest the gum line or the tongue, to add the intention of the ear. I also made surprising fabric choices, not shying away from patterns, and learned how to make them work for me.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I create what I do because it makes me happy. It’s challenging, and I enjoy a challenging puzzle. I remember taking a picture of my daughter and making it into a pattern — and I loved to see the light of her eyes shine out at me from the design wall. I loved taking the impossibility of a waving flag and successfully presenting it within the confines of my 2D fabrics and the sculpture of my quilting thread.

How does my writing/creating process work?

Now this is a really long thing for me to answer succinctly. I have a picture for inspiration (usually one that I’ve taken but sometimes one that I’ve asked permission to use) and from that, I make a value painting in Photoshop (which means that I draw all over it because pictures are only the beginning and will never give you everything that you need because they are not as good as the human eye). From that, I make a pattern. From that pattern, I create fabric templates that I collage together (cutting and fusing — this is secretly my most favorite part). I then stitch it all together through raw edge appliqué, and then I quilt it.

That’s my story. I’ve had my website since April 2005 because I have always enjoyed computers and it was a way for me to stay connected when I lived in a small town in Alabama (particularly when I became a stay-at-home mom), and I started the blog in September 2007. I had been a writer in my youth, and I have enjoyed adding writing as an expression of my creative intentions. I have enjoyed my journey — and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with anyone that has cared to read it and follow it here.

Leisa’s Turn with Abstract #3


Leisa and I are having a such an exciting time with this series. It is so much fun to see what the other is going to do with the work. This is the 3rd one that we’ve done and we’re already planning #4 and #5.

I was wrong — this is not the one Leisa plans to cut into strips. In fact, she cut off all the extra yellow and black that I had added at the top and bottom and returned it to its horizontal orientation. I just chuckled. I liked it better that way too but it was her prerogative.

She free motion embroidered it like crazy, added black lace, painted it, added vinyl, and painted some of the vinyl (on the inward facing side) with nail polish. It gives it the coolest effect. (I’ll have to be careful about quilting those sections lightly though. I’m a little worried if you can needle through nail polish.)

Leisa's in process #3

And this is a detail shot — you can see the wandering embroidery lines a little bit better here.Leisa's in process #3 detail


It’s interesting to see the unintended forms that come out of this process. I love where this one is going. I’m going to quilt it and then let Leisa have another crack at it — she is thinking about adding handwork after the quilting.

I have finished the binding on #2 — and I’m almost done with adding the sleeve. I do think I’ll have to add another one though. It’s not straight across at the top so figuring out how to sleeve this one has been a challenge. I added a short sleeve at the very top where it is straight — I think I’ll have to add another one lower down on the other side. I couldn’t work it into the binding edge thought because it isn’t straight.

And then I need to bind and sleeve #1, the first small one that we did. I’m having to use different techniques on these. For instance, I couldn’t pin baste #1 because of the vinyl — I had to spray baste. I’ll have to do the same with #3. #1 also has a lot of vinyl on it around the edges — so it occurs to me that can’t use my usual water soluble glue trick to help me bind the edges (which thankfully are at least straight on this one).

And because of this issue, I realized that I probably shouldn’t use my usual blocking technique on these — particularly the ones with vinyl. If I soak them in water, the vinyl may inhibit evaporation and could lead to molding — a distinct possibility as I live in the Deep South — so I’m going to forego that as well. I haven’t had a waviness problem on any of them — yet — but if it becomes an issue, I’ll block them with spritzes of water — not a full soaking.

I need to make myself stop. It’s September and I would like to have a piece to enter in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition sponsored by the National Portrait Gallery. I need to start photographing inspiration for that one. I entered a few years ago and wasn’t juried in so I just assumed that it was a bias against alternative mediums. Completely untrue. Be careful not to create obstacles for yourself that don’t exist. Last year, the People’s Choice award winner was a sculpture made from rice, rice noodles, and glue by Saeri Kiritani — and there was a fiber finalist — Lia Cook. I can’t be accepted if I don’t enter. You can see last year’s winners here.



twitter.jpgI just returned from a short vacation to celebrate the beginning of summer so much of my week was lost to the Muses, a respite of intellectual machinations to hopefully be cashed in at a later time. It was restful although I had hoped to spend time gathering inspiration through my camera. Unfortunately, the weather had a different agenda and a lot of time was spent looking at the ocean through large plate glass windows as we were inundated with rain, thunder, and lightening. (I will never understand the logic of people that think playing in the ocean or on a wet beach while lightening crashes around them is a good idea.)

I let my youngest daughter have the camera a good portion of the little bit of beach time that we enjoyed — so it will be interesting to pull them off the camera and see what enduring messages she has given me from our trip.

I did find time to tweet some — here is my weekly wrap-up. If you want to follow me in real time, I’m @vsgreaves — or hit the social media icons in the upper right above the menu.

This is a deeply moving series of portraits of dogs that were in service during the chaos of 9/11. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the skill of the photographer the captured the deep pools of their eyes — or if it is a reflection of the horrors that they lived through during that time.
@mymodernmet: Moving Portraits of Surviving 9/11 Search and Rescue Dogs 10 Years Later

The world grew a little dimmer this week as we lost the life of Maya Angelou to the angels. This was her last tweet. May she rest in peace and rise in Glory.
RT @DrMayaAngelou: Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.

I was asked recently — by another artist — “how long did that take you to make?” As artists, we should consider this one as it is an opportunity to market ourselves if we answer it correctly.
“How to Answer “How Long Did That Take You to Make?”” Always a hard one to answer.

As Creatives, we are familiar with working in “the flow” — this book review covers “wu wei,” a similar concept, and why it’s important to use our unconscious brain in other difficult activities.
RT @brainpicker: How to cultivate the paradoxical art of spontaneity in work, life, and love through the Chinese concept of wu-wei

My mom, a painter, never had the back of her art remarked upon — although it’s something routinely considered in fabric art since it’s rooted in the traditional quilting world (whether we like it or not). I think that it presents a marketing opportunity for any artist in any medium if we’re willing to take the time to be thoughtful about it (as well as neat).
RT @ArtsyShark: What’s the Back Story on Your Art? –

A thoughtful consideration of why artists create the work that we do — and in the end, why the answer is probably best left unanswered.
RT @brainpicker: Why do we create? The great Leonard Bernstein on artistic motivation – absolutely brilliant and necessary read

I couldn’t help but share this incredible pen and ink master. Although his inspiration is inarguably baroque, his images are beautiful to behold.
@mymodernmet: Incredibly Detailed Ink Drawings of Winged Insects by Alex Konahin



twitter.jpgMy youngest daughter went on a school trip to DC this last week with her dad as a chaperone — so it was just me and DD1. At her age, she doesn’t always acknowledge my existence so I spent a lot of extra time in the studio — almost twice as much as in a normal week. On my current piece, I’ve cut out everything but the roof — and after that, I’ll start sewing everything down in sections. I’ll write about it here on the blog so look for an update soon.

This is my weekly Twitter update about articles I found interesting during this past week. If you want to follow me in real time, you can find me @vsgreaves or hit the Twitter icon in the upper right hand corner above the menu. The FaceBook icon next to it takes you to my professional Page — I update pics on there a few times a week.

As part of the ongoing discussion about how a small elite set of investors churn the work of a small elite group of artists to increase the size of their investment portfolios, this article focuses on the fortunes of Oscar Murillo, a young 28 year old in the elite artist group. The concern is whether his early fame will lead to an early burn-out of interest in his work. Will his work endure or is it merely “trendy and derivative”?
Too much too fast — just let the artist be the artist. But is fame bad?  @nytimesarts

Self identifying as an artist makes a difference. Interestingly, I sometimes do — sometimes don’t. It depends on the form and my current mood. The study covered in this article finds that a lot of artists don’t self identify as an artist.
“What Makes an Artist an Artist?” Sometimes I self-identify as an artist — sometimes I don’t. 

Since the majority of artists don’t make anywhere near where the upper elite artist group does, it makes sense that they typically come from wealthy parents — not because they’re being funded by them but that they have different opinions about fulfillment and how it relates to money. (I did still find it depressing that Creatives typically make so little compared to everyone else. It’s a sad statement on our culture that it’s so undervalued.)
“How Wealthy Are Artists’ Parents?” Identifying as a prof artist enters you in an elite status group. Who knew? 

All Creatives need help working through artistic blocks from time to time.
“Artists Offer Their Escapes from Creative Block” Hoffman: “work every day like the manual laborer that I am” 

So many businesses look at traditional metrics in hiring decisions. It’s nice to see at least one company that is assessing the success of candidates based on soft skills — learning ability, emergent leadership, humility, and ownership — and at the bottom of the list, expertise.
“How to Get a Job at Google” The importance of soft skills – Why can’t Google be headquartered in ATL? 

If we can figure out what the market wants to buy, should we change what we create — or at least reach a compromise?
“Thinking About Art Practice and the Role of Compromise” I’m not the only one asking what Is sellable. 

The LA Times looks at the recently published TEFAF Art Market Report issued by the European Fine Arts Foundation. The news is sobering.
RT @abstanfield Report: Super-rich, favoring just a few artists, drive art market,0,6445724.story … <worth a read



twitter.jpgI have been in a state of flow this week — creativity blinding me to the outside world. It’s one of my favorite places to be. My new photography stand came and I took new pics of some older work (which ironically ended up not coming out well at all) — and I started fusing and cutting my latest piece — my favorite part of the process — my zen.

This is my weekly update on my Twitter feed. Admittedly, most all of the Tweets were done today — as I didn’t do much reading until today.

If you would like to follow my Twitter in real time, my handle is @vsgreaves — or hit the Twitter icon in the upper right hand corner above the menu. The FaceBook icon next to it takes you to my FaceBook Page where I post about what I’m doing in the studio during the week.

I posted this week on a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — how an artist should consider marketing and how it relates to choices in subject matter.
New blog post on Marketable Subject Matter — art marketing is invited into the studio:  #art #marketing

I started many years ago making portraits — and I started the series with “faces in cloth I.” All of my monochromatic portraits had this title and at some point, although I dropped the serial naming, I continued working in portraits and have found that serial work has helped me grow a lot. Elizabeth Barton has a great post on her blog this week about why an artist should consider serial work.
“Serial Work” another good discussion from Elizabeth Barton 

Many people do not understand me — but this article does. It’s a great description of the kind of personality and temperament a lot of artists have.
Definitely describes me — risk & creative flow: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently 

A lot of people think that creatives sit around and don’t do much — but really, the best way to overcome a block is to move forward with something — really, anything. Movement creates inspiration.
“Content, Creativity, and the Role of Habit” — show up & do the work 

My studio is at home. We have the perfect space for it and it works well in our situation. However, for those artists living in New York — studio space is shrinking.
“Rising Rents Leave New York Artists Out in the Cold” Not everyone has the luxury of studio space at home. 

It’s always frustrating to find an iconic image and realize that it’s all tied up in Getty Images. They have gone from issuing nasty legal threats for the use of their images to realizing the fluidity of pics and replacing threats with social media sharing buttons and a simple request for attribution to the photographer.
“Easing up on Litigation, Getty Images Goes Free for Non-Commercial Use” – Getty recognizes fluidity of pics 

I had not previously heard of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, an American that married Napoleon’s brother — but her journey looks like a fascinating view into a Renaissance woman who catapulted out of the restrictions on women in 1800’s American society into her own independent life.
“Wondrous Beauty: How Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte Pioneered the Ideal of the Independent Woman” 




twitter.jpgThis has been a frustrating week. I washed my latest small piece — the Cardinal — and the red has crocked onto the background and isn’t coming off. (I’ll have to get brave and paint it.) Possibly because of that frustration, I’ve spent hours trying to find inspiration for my next piece — and I haven’t accomplished anything more than wasting time on the internet. And today we were met with news of the sudden death of an old family friend. Sometimes I’m just happy to still be here — and I let that be enough.

So while I want to be working, I don’t have direction and I’m having a hard time finding my way. It’s not uncommon — I’ve been here before. It’s just frustrating.

I did post some on Twitter this week. If you want to follow me in real time, you can find me @vsgreaves — or hit the Twitter icon in the upper right above the menu. You can also find my Facebook Page link next to it — I post about work in my studio there.

Artists are constantly being asked to donate their time — which only devalues our work:
Time and Skill Cost Money: Don’t Be Cheap Jerks: RT @ArtsyShark

This is not about art but it is about perseverance. A South Korean that was in his 30’s aged out of the Korean Olympic Team — so he moved to Russia to compete for them — and came out of last week with a gold medal. If they’re smart, the Koreans are reconsidering their ageism:
The Koreans learned the hard way that you can still win a gold medal even if you’re older.  @nytimes

Luke Haynes is a fellow textile portraitist who has aligned with the watch company Fossil — which is a boon to the perception of art quilts in the eyes of the general public: … #lukehaynes #fossil

With the Ukraine in complete chaos, Orthodox priests have been donning their chasubles and providing prayer between the military and Ukrainian citizens. Stunning photographs.
Orthodox Priests Pray On Kiev Frontline  via @HuffPostRelig

Visualization is important to moving your mind forward (definitely what I need to be doing):
“Stuck? Try Drawing Your Ideas” 

In my search for inspiration, I found this artist who makes the most stunningly realistic paintings — in PASTELS no less:
Realistic Pastel Paintings By Spanish Artist Ruben Belloso … via @eexploria

This is a little kick in the pants that I need to think about as I try to work myself back into the studio:
Check out my latest post on Lifehack ‘7 Basic Rules of Creativity You Should Know’ RT @FortheCreators



twitter.jpgA frigid week but a good one for reading. Here are all of my tweets for the week.

If you’d rather follow my tweets in real time, I’m @vsgreaves or hit the Twitter icon in upper right above the menu. The Facebook icon is next to it & will take you to my Facebook Page where I post about my studio and what I’m working on.

I’m developing almost a study on what art is more likely to sell. There is not as much published on this subject as I would like:
The Most Popular Subjects For Art That Sells 

Another artist had put this pic of a painting on her blog. It was painted by John Baldessari 1966-1968 and looks more like a modern day JPG — but it’s actually a painting — and it offers some suggestions for subject matter:
“Tips for Artists Who Want To Sell” by John Baldessari 

Is it OK to make work that is not that good? Of course! It takes time for your work to match your taste. You need to make a large volume of work to close the gap.
In Just 2 Minutes, This Video Will Make You Feel Silly For Ever Having Doubted Yourself  via @HPGoodNews

I am beginning to contemplate my taxes and my successes of last year have some bearing on what I might need to do differently on my taxes. This list gives some helpful tax advice for artists.
Great tax info, checklists, and worksheets for #artists RT @abstanfield

It’s hard to miss the coverage of the Winter Olympics going on now in Sochi — and there was an incredible moment last week when Shaun White DIDN’T win a medal — and came out a real winner:
“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” RG Ingersoll

There was also an female snowboarder at the Olympics who used a board with an artist’s work on the back:
“Artist Judith Braun Finds Her Work Part of an Olympic Medal Win” 

This was yet another example of a corporation taking an independent’s artist’s work and using it on their products without prior agreement — very similar to what happened to Lisa Congdon. The end of the story, however, is good news — JCPenney has given the artist a contract to pay her for license of her work:
Winnipeg artist’s work taken from website, sold at J.C. Penney  via @DaleAnnePotter




twitter.jpgThere has been a lot going on this week — a lot of great articles for Creatives were written (or recently found) — all of which I shared on my Twitter feed — and I finished my latest piece Worry. Today, I bring you my weekly wrap-up of my Twitter feed.

Remember, if you want to catch my Tweets in real time, you can find me at @vsgreaves — or hit the Twitter icon above the menu in the upper right. Also, if you want to see what’s going on in the studio, check out my Facebook Page by clicking on the Facebook icon next to that Twitter icon.

According to the authors, and I would agree, “we live in a “permissions culture,” which values copyright permissions above all else” and that “permissions have become such an issue that they’re interfering with professionals’ work — the ability to educate, to undertake scholarly studies, to make art.” It’s a different point of view from the endless discussions regarding the protection of copyrights.
“Are Art Professionals Afraid of Fair Use?” 

“Creativity & Listening” — “What we learn from the creative process is that giving up control … is a necessary path to success.” 

I live in Atlanta — I was shocked that it made #1 on this list:
Best cities for artists: 

This article on the ethics of altering photographs digitally is sure to inspire a lot of debate:
“Nature Photography: Objectivity, Manipulation, and Ethics” 

I was so struck by this life-like statue of a man sleep walking in his underwear across the Wellesley campus — and he’s garnered a lot of public discussion — which I appreciate in the same way Banksy brings the discussion of art to the masses:
Tighty whitey’s take a stroll — “Artist Responds to Wellesley College Students’ Concerns With Sculpture: 

This was just a grand idea — to replace huge sign boards in Paris with classical works of art. It made me realize how cluttered our modern lives are with constant marketing of inane things.
“Parisian Advertisements Replaced with Classical Works of Art”  @mymodernmet

Bringing to mind the discussion of altering photos, Annie Leibovitz’s photographs (and resulting digital alteration) create the most stunning photos. The fact that she finds inspiration in Disney characters makes the work all the more relatable:
“Annie Leibovitz’s Celebrity Disney Dream Portraits”  @mymodernmet

I made the point the other day on someone’s Facebook wall that one of the discriminations made in the art world today is towards abstract versus illustrative work — and although I was soundly flamed for such a ridiculous statement, the wonderful Winkleman, an art dealer in NY, wrote a post fairly exactly supporting my argument just this week:
“Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Abstract Paintings so Different, so Lucrative?” Winkleman wise words

I didn’t know the the Olympics once had art competitions — did you?
“Back When the Olympics Had Art Competitions” 

This is about the importance of visual language, which is not valued in our current education system, and its effect on our brains:
“Why Einstein, JFK, Edison, and Marie Curie All Doodled” 

I loved this article because he talks about making marketable art and going through the thought process of figuring out what will sell:
RT @ArtsyShark: Success for artists is not complicated …  Thoughts from Jack White

I actually went looking for articles on marketing art — and found this helpful piece from July of last year.
Selling Art: Is your artwork marketable?

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook and I found it fascinating. I had never heard the controversy over whether Van Gogh committed suicide or was murdered — and I didn’t know that he died two days after being shot:
Van Gogh: murder mystery or straightforward suicide?  via @maggieinsc



twitter.jpgAnother week has gone by — January is disappearing fast. I am hoping to finish my current piece by the end of the month — but I have a lot of personal roadblocks in the coming week — so that may just not be possible. I have finished all of the appliqué and I’m getting ready to start quilting it. Wish me luck.

I shared a lot of fun articles this week — and this is my weekly summary. Remember if you want to follow my posts directly on Twitter — I am @vsgreaves — or click the Twitter icon in the upper right above the menu. You’ll also notice the Facebook icon there next to it — that will take you to my Facebook Page.

This is Kathleen Loomis’s review of the book Thinking Through Craft by Glenn Adamson — sobering view of the art world — but I’ve definitely put this book on my reading list:
“Clawing your way out — or in” of the “art world” 

I’ve become a big believer in tracking your progress — even if you’re a studio artist and you’re only accountable to yourself:
““The Ostrich Problem” and The Danger of Not Tracking Your Progress” 

I’m always interested in marketing my work and finding new information that will help:
How Artists Can Make Art That Will Sell – Artpromotivate via @ArtProMotivate

Lisa Call is textile artist that I started following a couple of years ago because she’s so successful at making a lot of work and selling it — so when she talks, I listen:
“To make it happen, I write it down” @lisacall 

Since I photograph my own work, I’m always interested in fine tuning my textile photography skills:
How to photograph textile art 

I liked this article — it talked about getting your brain into the flow and why critiquing can be harmful to that:
“Work First, Critique Second” getting into the creative flow 

I share all of my in process work on my blog — which is ironic because I’m highly protective of sharing the work out of my studio. When someone comes to the house, I typically cover it up so it won’t be seen — because, as the previous article mentioned, criticism can be harmful to flow. There are only a couple of people that I’ll discuss in process work with — but I suppose my blog hasn’t contradicted that rule because I don’t typically receive a lot of comments. This article argues that sharing work with the masses can be harmful to the creative cycle and that special support groups are what is needed.
“In Praise of the Creative Support Group” 

This article is written from the perspective of a photographer but still has an important lesson — if you’re given lemons, make lemonade:
“Use Optimism to Avoid “Work Paralysis”” 

I found this discussion of ivory an interesting one. Ivory is typically used as a carving medium for sculpture — but its harvesting also typically results in the death of elephants and the subsequent elimination of free roaming elephants. The question becomes — does a piece of sculpture that is made of ivory constitute art — or is it only a sign of the slaughter of wild elephants — and should we grind down all ivory whether it is carved or not to dissuade poachers from continuing to slaughter elephants?
“To Stop the Illegal Ivory Trade, You Have to Stop the Art” 



twitter.jpgAnother week down and not a lot going on to share in this week’s Tweek of Twitter updates. I read a ton of articles but not a lot worth sharing. A few gems in the mix though.

As always, you can follow my live Twitter updates @vsgreaves or click the Twitter icon in the right hand corner just above the menu.

It’s hard to ignore the signs of burn-out going on in Western culture right now. Maybe shortening our work week would have a positive effect:
“Should We All Have A 4-Day Work Week?” … In a perfect world … 

This article is about working in a series & why it’s important for artists to develop creative thought in more than one piece:
““It Doesn’t Matter if You Call It Art If You Don’t Have Anything to Say” – Creating Art in a Series” 

Seinfeld was a heavy iconic figure in the 80’s, and as only someone that can write a show about nothing, he is spot on about creative blocks and overcoming them:
“Seinfeld: Writer’s Block Is a B.S. Excuse for Not Doing Your Work.” 

Everyone likes to say that creativity is the new highly valued resource in corporate America today — and something we should be cultivating in our children — but the truth just doesn’t back this up. Corporate America looks for skills — not thinkers — and we constantly cut funding to the arts for children. And sadly, creativity is more a point of discrimination than a valued skill:
“Creativity is rejected: Teachers and bosses don’t value out-of-the-box thinking.” 

I can’t say this enough — if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough. You have to fail — usually a lot — before you can ever win a race.
Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win. 

Beyond the sense of appreciation I felt at having Edward Winkleman mention an art exhibit in my hometown of Birmingham, AL — he writes a compelling post about the perception of success that artists need to emulate to become recognized in the art world (and how in reality, even the successful ones are working a day job to keep their art life alive):
“Looking Past the Smoke and Mirrors: “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life”” 


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