Posts tagged patriotic art

Working From Photographs


This morning, I was spending a few minutes on Facebook, and Dorte Jensen, who was accepted in SAQA as a JAM member at the same time I was, posted a picture of a piece she made of Lincoln to the Art Quilts page. Given the recent discussion of the use of historical photographs in your artwork, I couldn’t help but think that comparing her picture of Lincoln to mine makes my argument all too clear — that the use of a photograph as inspiration does not mean that the artist is merely copying the photograph. Obviously, there is immense skill in drafting a pattern from any photograph and rendering it in your own style.

Although the inspirational photograph for her piece is slightly different than the one I used, it is obvious that our styles are completely different.

This is Dorte’s piece.


And this is mine.


If our pieces were merely copies, they would look almost identical.  Clearly they do not. They each have their own spirit and life and attributes that make each one special.

Dorte has also recently made a piece of Ben Franklin that is marvelous. I hope you enjoy her website.

As portraitists, it is inevitable that we will turn to historical photographs if we want our work to be marketable. The skill with which they are rendered are no less than if we were to use one of our own photographs. As long as the copyright is clear, they are a wonderful source of inspiration.

Houston Festival part 2


After the Winner’s Circle, you can be certain that I hardly slept. I went to the hotel bar (perfect spot for a party of one), had some soup, and then went back to my room to try to sleep.

TWEET: Victoria Findlay Wolfe took this just before I walked on stage last night. #quiltfestival


I wish I had a pic of me on the stage. There was a photographer there but I have no idea who he was working for. Anyway, I’m very grateful to Victoria for taking this.

The next day I had a leisurely morning and basically waited for lunch time.

TWEET: Luncheon!


I was so pleased that my new friend Karen sent me a message asking if I wanted to join her for lunch. We met at the door and sat at a table with several of the winners from Japan. They didn’t speak very good English but they were incredibly kind and friendly.

TWEET: Takido Fusako on the left game me a hand sewn flower that is beautiful!

Japanese winners

The woman on the left, Takido Fusako (her piece Crest of Tulip won a Judge’s Choice award), gave me a hand sewn pin (which looked awesome on my black jacket). The woman on the right, Sachiko Chiba, gave me an autographed print of her beautiful quilt My Hope that won 3rd place in Hand Quilting.

TWEET: Flower that Takido Fusako gave me. #quiltfestival


On the stage, all of the top winners ate lunch and then spoke about their piece. The first speaker was Best of Show winner Melissa Sobotka.

TWEET: Melissa Sobotka winner of best of show Chihuly’s Gondola. It’s truly stunning.



TWEET: Melissa — “pay attention to the judge or blow them off” — love it!

She had shown this quilt at another venue and one of the judges told her that there was a problem with the binding. Melissa’s point is that you either take their opinion or don’t worry about it. She did ultimately choose to take off the binding and re-apply another one before sending it off to Houston for judging.

TWEET: Vicki Anderson owes 18 sewing machines! Her speech on Getting Published.


TWEET: #judimadsen mentioned in her speech – on how to make a beautifully quilted quilt.

I’m Facebook friends with Judi and I follow her beautiful machine quilting so I was excited that Vicki showed her work and gave it its proper praise.

After the luncheon, there were a couple — just a couple —  of vendor tables outside. I loved these fabric cakes. It reminded me of the felted teacup I made a few years ago.

TWEET: Too cute!


TWEET: I bought this year’ spin & they gave me freebies for 2004, 2007, & 2012. The one on the top left is this year’s pin.


It was strange walking back to my room, seeing quilters that are famous quilters.

TWEET: I feel like such a stalker. I know their names, I follow them on FB but I can’t bring myself to introduce myself.

I went back to my room and took pics of the Convention Center from there. It is such a large building, I couldn’t even get half of it in a frame.


With time to spare before Preview Night at 5pm, I spent some time in the gym. This is the view from the west tower of the Hilton.


TWEET: Technology is so cool. Delta emailed me a check-in, they txt’d a link to my boarding pass, & I saved it in Passbook for tomorrow.

This is my first time to be completely dependent on my smart phone to check in. I’ll never print another boarding pass.

I had planned on putting everything in one post from this one day in Houston — but this post is growing by the minute. I think I’m going to split the rest of it into another post. So look for a part 3 in a couple of days.

Houston Festival part 1


TWEET: While I’m in Houston, I’m sending my tweets to my personal FB & my FB Page. I apologize for double tweets but want everyone to see the pics!

This is how I started my exciting 48 hour adventure to the Houston Quilt Festival. I wanted to share it with as many as my friends as possible. I was so excited and nervous about going, I accomplished practically nothing in the last couple of weeks leading up to the show other than packing my suitcase.

I went alone. I haven’t traveled alone since I was much younger and I looked at it as a grand adventure.

TWEET: Checked into Hilton Americas — isn’t the Chihuly glass chandelier amazing?


It’s impossible to mistake a Chihuly. There are two of them like this at Hilton Americas. I was lucky to find a room in the Hilton — it’s connected by a walkway to the Convention Center — something greatly appreciated by me when it poured rain on Wednesday and Thursday.

TWEET: Walked down bad streets to find this amazing place — District 7 Grill.


But this Tuesday, the skies were clear. I checked into the Hilton. I was starving — it was so late — but I was determined to be more original than eating in the hotel. I turned on my iPhone & looked for a restaurant nearby with at least a 90% approval rating. The closest one was District 7 Grill. I crossed the street to the convention center and made a left — which unhappily took me in the wrong direction. I ended up walking completely around the convention center — which is huge and covers probably 4 or more city blocks. I had to be careful about the streets I walked down and stick to ones with cars on them. I eventually found this haven of wonderful food. I had someone tell me it was in China Town. It was certainly a place that the locals go.

TWEET: Did I mention — no calorie counting on this trip?


I know it’s cliche’ to have a picture of my plate — but I couldn’t help it. It was 2:30 my time & I hadn’t eaten since 6am. This is a grilled veggie pizza on naan bread with feta cheese & pecans. I ate the entire thing. No regrets.

TWEET: An hour until I get ready. Decided I can’t eat dinner before I go — too nervous. Next tweet — Winners Circle.

I ate so late though that I wasn’t hungry later. Mix that with the excitement of getting ready for the Winners Circle — and the most I could get down was a banana. At least I was able to find some fruit downstairs in the lobby.

TWEET: The infamous Paula Nadelstern carpet.


Many quilters know the story of Paula Nadelstern, a quilter famous for her kaleidoscopes, showing up one year, looking down, and seeing her designs on the rug leading from the hotel to the convention center in the walkway. She successfully sued them for copyright infringement.

TWEET: I’ve seen Charlotte Warr Andersen & Jamie Fingal in the halls — rock stars in the quilt world.

I kept passing people that I know — but I don’t know. It was very surreal. Although non-quilters won’t necessarily know these people, I’ve seen their work & followed them for years — some of them I’ve even spoken with on Facebook. And yet I couldn’t bring myself to say something to them. I suppose a part of me thinks that famous people should be allowed their privacy.

TWEET: I’m here!


I finally found the correct ballroom. There are signs every 100 feet for a ballroom down the length of the convention center — none of them marked anything other than “ballroom”.

Karey Bresenhan

This is Karey Bresenhan speaking at the beginning. She is the the nexus of the entire International Market and Festival. She is the founder and without her, none of us would be there.

TWEET: Ran into my friend Denny Webster & her friend Marilyn Wall! I took pic with my camera so I’ll blog those later in the week.

Marilyn Wall & Denny Webster

Me with Marilyn & Denny

I was standing by myself in line waiting to go in to the ballroom when I spotted my friend Denny Webster! She used to live here in Atlanta but moved a few months ago to North Carolina. She was there with Marilyn Wall who I was delighted to meet.

TWEET: I’m in my red Vera Wang — I’m overdressed.

I did feel overdressed — although later I was glad that I had chosen it. There was a full range of dress code — from jeans to full kimonos.

TWEET: I’m really close to Sharon Schamber — too strange!

She was sitting in the front row. I’ve followed her work for years. I follow her techniques for my bindings. I have my pressing board built like hers. Thank goodness for YouTube — I’ve never met her in person though. She’s petite like me.

TWEET: Bonnie McCaffrey is videoing at the front & Luana Rubin is sitting next to her.

Again, two people who I find interesting and follow. Bonnie was videoing the ceremony from the 2nd row and Luana was seated next to her.

TWEET: My heart just stopped! Did you hear it? 1st place in Art-People.

That was a moment to remember. They called 3rd place — so I thought — oh good! 2nd place! And then they called 2nd place — and I knew. I whispered “I think my heart just stopped.” I certainly stopped breathing.


I wish I had a picture of me on stage. I managed to get this picture from Victoria Findlay Wolfe.

TWEET: Fairfield Mastery Contemporary Artistry to Noriko Nozawa — gorgeous!


I took this pic the next day but it came out better than the ones I took the previous night. I found this quilt (Photographer Darling) worth studying. The background is quilted with a grid of black thread on white (mostly) — the postcards are black thread-work on white — and the image of the photographer is cross stitch! I did wonder how she managed to keep this piece flat — given the change in thread layers across the piece, it had to be challenging.

TWEET: Babylock master award for innovative artistry — Jane Sassaman!

International Quilt Festival 2013

This is also a pic from the next day (Illinois Album). It has a black border that is difficult to see because of the black hanging background. The design is phenomenal, but what struck me as surprising is that the white background is not a typical cotton fabric — it’s an embroidered white, probably not cotton. She also used a lot of embroidery stitches from her machine. These are not details that affect the overall design but they are interesting details for close inspection.

TWEET: Superior Award for Thread Artistry — Masanobu Miyama! (He’s a man!)


The majority of quilters are women so I’m always struck by a man that’s a quilter. He was the only man in the top winners. This piece (Wind) is very small. He painted the fabric with Tsukineko dyes, fused all the pieces down, and then heavily thread painted it. His wife was there and also had a piece in the show. They were from Japan. (30% or so of the winners were from Japan.)

TWEET: Pfaff Award for machine artistry — Shirley Gisi!

I didn’t get a great picture of this — but you can see it on the IQA Winners page here. It’s an abstract piece that effectively uses gradation fabrics to create 3D effects. Very clever.

TWEET: eQuilter award for WOB — Christine Alexiou — love this one!

Christine Alexiou

Christine Alexiou

This piece is called Septum Peccata Mortalia (Seven Deadly Sins). It opens like a book and has several pages.

That night, I was sitting next to Karen Ponischil (who won an Honorable Mention) and Christine on the other side. We shared our joy of the evening together and ended up meeting the next day to spend time together. My experience in Houston wouldn’t have been the same without them.


TWEET: Founder’s Award – Karen Seivert & a 2nd one to Margo Hardie!

I was confused here. Karen Seivert won a Founder’s Honorable Mention. Then Margo Hardie and Janet Stone both won Founder’s Awards.

TWEET: Another one to Janet Stone!

TWEET: Best Of Show — $10,000 award — wait for it ………

TWEET: Best of Show — Melissa Sobotka — stunning!!!


Melissa Sobotka

I don’t know that she could have found a better dress to stand beside her piece.

TWEET: Will get a better pic soon!


This, of course, is my better pic. It looks like a painting — or a photograph. It is raw edge  with commercially bought batiks. I was stunned that raw edge  has gained such acceptance. I hazard to guess that this is the 1st raw edge  that has won Best of Show in Houston. And when I saw raw edge — I mean that there is no appliqué stitch — only tight quilting. I saw this on many pieces at Houston — raw edge but tight quilting or thread painting. It’s making me wonder if I should continue to spend so many hours covering my edges with appliqué stitches.

TWEET: I stood by my quilt for an hour — wow!! Everyone was so nice!!


I’m so glad that my new friend Karen insisted on taking my pic as I didn’t get one with me later the next day when Lincoln had it’s blue ribbon next to it.

International Quilt Festival 2013: Winner's Circle

And the money shot. This is also Karen — I don’t know what I would have done without her.

TWEET: I took a bunch of pics that I’ll post on my blog when I get home.

And so I’ve incorporated them here — both my tweeted pictures and the ones on my phone.

And finally — I couldn’t ignore the coolest shoes in the room. These were Philappa Naylor’s boots. She won first place for Scarlett’s Crimson in the Wearable Art category. She does beautiful quilts usually around a medallion so I was surprised to see her in the Wearable Art category — but I understand that it can be thrilling to step outside your comfort zone. Even better to do it and succeed at such a high level.

coolest shoes

I had a blast. Although I didn’t get to stay very long, it was incredibly fun.

Part 2 will come tomorrow and I’ll show pics from my second day in Houston.

2013 Georgia Artists Reception


Last Friday was the Georgia Artists reception at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs. I was excited to go. This is my 3rd year to be included in this exhibit and it’s always a great way to meet other Atlanta artists.

So this year, I prepared myself. I designed business cards & had them rush printed. I even went so far as to buy a new dress — something I never do. I came prepared as the professional artist.

I’m still glad that I did that — I should always do that — but this year was different. The artists didn’t mingle. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet one other artist other than the one that I already knew — and I pushed my card on her so I could at least have given one away. In retrospect, we didn’t have name tags like we have in previous years. Maybe that made the difference. Also, there was only one artist in the show that had been included previously. I wonder what damage the economy has inflicted on its community of artists.

Lincoln was beautifully hung. I always love to see my work hanging in a professional gallery.


This is me with my Lincoln.

Lincoln & me

And this is SPLAT! created by Leisa Rich. I’ve known her for a few years although we have mostly conversed on Facebook. I was blown away by this piece. It looks more like sculpture than fiber given the way it undulates from the wall. It’s mostly stitching on a vinyl material but there are holes filled with what I think is fine silk.


SPLAT! by Leisa Rich

And here is Leisa with an Honorable Mention! Well deserved. Probably my favorite piece in the show.

SPLAT! with Leisa Rich

SPLAT! with creator Leisa Rich


New Exhibitions


I have been blessed with several exhibition opportunities lately that I wanted to share.

Bukonyan Elder


Bukonyan Elder was chosen as one of two pieces to represent my Fiber Art Fusion group in our sister organization Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance show Fiber ARTlanta. The opening reception will be May 3rd at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta 6:30 – 8:30pm. The show will run through May 27th.





Lincoln has been juried into the Georgia Artist exhibit opening at the Abernathy Arts Center in Sandy Springs, GA also on May 3rd 6:30 – 8:30pm. The show will run through June 14.




The BowlJudgments smbeachguardians_sm


Both The Bowl Judgments & Beach Guardians have been juried into Sacred Threads 2013. Show dates are July 10 – 28 at Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, VA. The artists reception is July 13 1 – 4 pm.

Quilting Lincoln


I spent a long time quilting this piece. I took about a week to quilt his figure — but then I needed to do something for the background. I found that incorporating two different ideas gave me something workable without being overwhelming.

Like many people quilting on a domestic machine — I found some angles to be very challenging. My first design was a parallel flowing line which wasn’t too hard — but then I added swirls in the open spaces. These had to be done all in the same direction — so the left hand side of the quilt became a bear to manage. I found that rolling up the right hand side and holding it with rubber bands at the top and bottom gave me something to hold on to.

Quilting thru Machine

From this angle, you can see the background quilting better. I am so glad I took the time to add this texture to the piece. I think it adds to the feeling of age in it — and it’s a nice contrast to the contour lines on the face.

Background Quilting Detail


I think I’m slowing getting better at quilting. Although I’m not a huge proponent of the quilt police guidelines that the stitch length has to be perfectly consistent — and I do not have the luxury of a stitch regulator on my machine — over time, that is what is happening. I did not mark my design and chose instead to keep the framework of wavy lines organic — but even those became more uniform the more time I spent making them.



After a week of background quilting, I finally completed  Lincoln. When I sat down to write my artist’s statement, I found it entirely too political, so I decided to merely include some of Lincoln’s quotes instead.

It feels good to finish before the holidays. I already have ideas for my next piece.


Me and Abe


I am guilty of ignoring my blog. I took many pictures as I made his shirt, tie, coat, and finally his hair — but the progressions are not that interesting. The white doesn’t photograph well and the black — well I was overcome with black. Lincoln has a dour personage and although I didn’t intend this to be a dark piece, by nature of his hair and his clothing, there are a LOT of black prints in this piece.

This is how he looks on my black design wall. Not bad — but I thought he would look really good on a deep navy — something that would be lighter than his hair but still strong enough to evoke images of the Union flag. I even considered adding flag details in the background but decided that it would only distract from his piercing stare.

Clearly, I was wrong. It is hard to tell in the artificial lighting of most fabric stores how a value is really going to work. This one is much too dark. Sadly, I had been to a couple of local quilt stores, and this is the only one I felt had promise.

I found this sky fabric in my stash. It has a cool feel about it, almost as if Lincoln is standing on the battleground — but the white in the clouds is too distracting — another reason I finally declared that he needed a plainer background.

And then I found this green batik. It has a feeling of age to it. It has some texture in the print, but not much. It is exactly the right value. I wouldn’t have thought this would work — but there is some smoky blue in it that pulls out the color in his eyes — a faded gray that hopefully reflects weariness.

Today I’m pondering how to quilt him. I’ve been drawing on my picture of him. The lines of his face are so distinctive and different from what I’ve done before that I had to pull some new tricks out of my bag. The line under the left cheek for example had to be highlighted. The chin also sits in an awkward fashion and makes the joining of the cheek to the chin different from how I’ve approached it before.

Choosing Faces With Character


At some point, as a portrait artist, you begin to want to do something different. Most faces aren’t as distinctive as you would think and the thought of working on a face with a lot of character becomes appealing.

Couple that with the recent election and my need to study American history, and I came up with the idea of working on a piece portraying Abraham Lincoln — our 16th President.

This is the very beginning — the first two values that show a rough outline of his face and ear.

Adding the third value makes his face almost immediately begin to come to life. (I was obviously starting this late in the day when the natural light in my studio was failing.)

The fourth value begins to show us the deep wrinkles that Lincoln had in his later years.

The fifth value is very subtle but shows some distinction from the fourth one.

It is at about this time that I realized, given the size of my pressing sheet that I’m using (sometimes I’ll fuse directly to muslin but this time decided to use the Teflon sheet), I am going to have to wait to finish the darker values in his ear and neck. (My sheet is 18″x18″ — I have my eye on one that is 27″x30″.) Otherwise, I would be fusing fabrics onto my ironing board — and that would just make a mess.

This is the sixth value. I am really pushing the envelope having this many values but I think it will work in the end.

This is the seventh value with the gray blue of the irises added.

And the eighth value is black. It adds that finishing touch of contrast. It highlights his eyes, his nose, his mouth, and his chin. I have also added the spark of white in his eyes.

This shows him with a completed ear. (You might not be able to see it here, but I’ve moved the pressing sheet over so that it is directly under the ear.)

There is actually a piece of black from his hair that will flow into the darkest part of his ear. I decided to add it all as one piece — so you’ll see that final detail after his hair is attached.

And then I started on his neck. (Again, I moved the pressing sheet down into the neck area.) I thought about only showing it completed, but I think it is equally interesting to see its creation in layers. This is the first value (which is actually the 2nd value in his face.)

The second value gives a little more definition.

The third value shows us his Adam’s apple.

The fourth value accentuates that.

The fifth value begins to give us shadow.

The sixth value completes the shadow.

And the black again gives the contrast, showing the outline of his jaw and the separation of his neck from the face.

The previous pictures were all taken while the piece was lying flat on my ironing board so there is some perspective distortion. This is the completed face on my design wall.

I may change his eyes to make them darker — but all in all, I think he is looking fairly good.

My daughter asked me the other day if I was going to put his stovepipe top hat on him. Although his hat is iconic, I can’t say that that had occurred to me — so I may put off working on his hair while I consider the design of the overall piece. As usual, I have not decided what to do in the background yet either.

Celestial Home


Just as the month turned over to April, I completed Celestial Home — which you can see here. The last time that I shared this piece, I was still debating on the background. I ended up with a batik and didn’t piece any of it. The cloud layer is really at the base of the mountain — and to add clouds to the sky behind the eagle would throw the piece off balance. Really, above the clouds, there is only sky. To break up the sky would diminish the importance of the eagle given its size relative to the rest of the piece.

The goal of the piece is for the eye to look to the eagle and then move across the expansive sky to the left. With the blue background added, I found that the eye just moved out in any direction. Adding the black border on the top & bottom are an attempt to keep the sightline moving in the direction that I want.

When I began quilting, I knew that I would add something worthwhile to the black background. From past experience, I’ve found that matching the thread to the background is a great way for the quilting to become completely unobtrusive — so if I’m going to spend time adding interesting quilting, use another color. I used purple so you can see the quilting design.

I also did some research on the eagle and found them fascinating. Their wingspan is incredibly large — 10 inches more than the width of the quilt — and they mate for life. I think that the black markings on their face give them the ferocious look that the founding fathers of the United States found so compelling — although the eagle has been used as a symbol  for other noble civilizations including the Sumerians and Romans.

They live in the celestial regions of this world and call the vast sky their home. I hope I’ve conveyed some of the feel of that home.

We the People


In the past year, I’ve started to show my age. I’ve spent time looking through photo albums, archiving pictures in digital form, researching relatives (with the help of DAR, I’ve gone all the way back to the late 1700’s) — I’ve wanted to know where I came from. And part of that journey has been looking at how my lovely country developed — why our founding fathers here in America made the decisions that they did. Probably my best exposure to the Constitution, however, was provided by School House Rock.

So I’ve been considering this lovely document — hand written by our founding fathers — created at a time in which typewriters had not yet been invented. There is some beautiful calligraphy for the titles, and the majority of it was transcribed by James Madison’s cursive script. Cursive is a personal thing, unique to each individual. I’ve heard that there are some schools that have stopped teaching it — a shame. It is a beautiful and artistic expression.

All of this finally came out this past week — my kids went back to school and I had time on my hands. I also have the unique opportunity to include the piece in my local group’s art show — but I have to work fast. I only have a couple of weeks.

So this is where my muse led me — running at an insane pace.

I took white muslin & dyed it overnight in coffee. Coffee gives such a wonderfully rich color — very antique. I did not completely wash it out — I wanted to be able to add water stains to the piece to add to its age & make it look like old parchment.

Did I mention it was a lot of muslin? One & 2/3 yards. I thought that that would do it. Oh naive. For some reason, I thought that I could fit the Constitution on this. Well I was wrong. But I did fill it up with as much as I could. I tried to follow the calligraphy, but the rest is my own dear cursive hand writing. Did I mention that my hand cramped a lot? I forgot about that part of hand writing. But I kept going. I got through Article II Section 1 (although the final piece won’t show all of Section 1 because of how it’s cut out).

In copying it, I was struck by the number of capitals, the most wonderful of which is People. We the People — we are capitalized, just like President. We are important and have a soul in this document. It felt so beautiful and empowering. It is a document for us — We the People.

I decided to use Peltex for the inside — which was challenging. This is a large piece and required a lot of Peltex. It was my intention to quilt it after I sandwiched it with Peltex — what was I thinking? My domestic machine was no match for this. No — I would have to cut it up before I could begin to quilt it.

And did I say something about cutting this up? I’ve developed an interest in deconstruction — a fact that disturbs my DH — but I find fascinating. The Constitution is a living document that we have been amending — or deconstructing & rebuilding — practically since it was written. I wanted to make this hard edged piece fluid.

I started by marking my pieces on the top — I was lucky & found the perfect circle to use that would cover the entire width in exact repeats — and then I added tape numbers — because once this is cut up, putting it back together could be tricky. The circle seemed the perfect shape to me.

It was so large, I had to cut half of it on the floor — and I’m very sore today. You wouldn’t think that crouching on the floor would use muscles that you don’t usually use — but it does. After I was half done — it was small enough, thankfully, that I could finish at a table.

My first thought was to only use the circles, but now, looking at it on the design wall, I think I’m going to keep the diamond intersections.

After I took this picture, I sprayed it carefully to create more water marks.

My next move will be quilting each piece — and then the difficult task of edging each piece with thread — and when that is done, I have to think about hanging it. I’m still mulling it over in my mind — but the circles will hang horizontally, each from the piece above it — and the diamonds in a similar way but at an offset to the circles. I may use thread, I may use chain — I may add tea bags since they symbolize the freedom that we grasped by turning away from British imperialism.

It’s a work in progress — not like my illustrative work — but something the Muse commanded me to make.

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