Friday, December 31, 2010

What is wrong with her?

About 6 months ago, I took an online class through Joggles and loved the class.  I learned many new techniques and created "River Bend Lady".  She has been hanging on my wall in the livingroom and every time I see her I ask myself what is wrong with her?  Very slowly I have reached a couple of conclusions.  First of all she needs more hair on her forhead.  I wanted her to look windblown but it looks like some of her hair has blown away.  I will add more to see if that makes a difference.  Secondly, she needs a bra.  She is too well endowed to go braless.  Not sure how to solve this problem but will let you see when I figure it out.  I recommend online classes from  as a great way to get new ideas with great instructors.  This is about the only way that I can do this since I live in traditional land in the middle of nowhere.  Jan

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gallery Show

It was so much FUN!  The Arkansas Craft Gallery looks so gorgeous - the displays are wonderful and Pat and Jane do such a nice job making everyone's work look beautiful.  And they really did a great job with my quilts and boxes and postcards.  They mixed in art work from other artists - and the combination made me smile.  This is a photo of the main wall showing my quilts.
I also got to do an artist demo.  And while I was chatting with folks about what it is that I do (a great mystery to most) I realized that I really miss talking to strangers about my work.  I wonder if I can find a way to do that more often next year?  Writing for this blog fills some of that need - but I like the face to face contact.  And I really like watching people who know me in other areas of my life seeing my artwork for the very first time.  My work is so whimsical that it definitely does not appeal to all people..... but at least they get to SEE what I love to create.  This is a photo of some of the frilly goodies that I brought for my display table so that folks could see the types of things I work with.... FUN!      Barbara

Friday, December 17, 2010

Busy Time

Is anyone else TOO busy this Christmas season?  You would never know how busy my life is from looking at my calendar - but I have been scurrying about the house doing thousands of little things - and most days when I look back I don't have any idea where the time went.
But tomorrow is a day that I have been looking forward to for months.  I get to be a demonstrating artist and have an artist reception at the Arkansas Craft Gallery in Mountain View.  I am so excited - and honored that they are letting me do this!  I always love to talk to folks about my art and don't get that many opportunities.  So my demo materials are all packed up, the cookies for the reception are made, and I am ready!  I will try to take some photos to put on the blog.     Barbara

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Inspiration from a challenge

Sometimes I go into a challenge kicking and screaming because I don't like to be told what to do.  Once in awhile, a challenge comes along that really inspires a creative frenzy. 

The small art quilt group that I belong to, the" Renegades", throws out a challenge at least once a year and this year the inspiration involved a deck of cards.  We were each asked to draw a card, create a work that is 18"X24" and  present it to the group at our May meeting.  As everyone drew a card, my  muse was having her own little silent fit.

Once I got into my studio, the muse and I had an attitude adjustment and started to brainstorm.  Now I have my sketch almost finished and am finishing up the last of the UFO's so that I can jump into this project with both feet and a great attitude. Since this will be kept under wraps until May, I will be giving little hints as I go along but won't post the finished project until after our May meeting.  Stay tunes!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chicken is Back!

Back of Fiona showing quilting
Fiona Featherly  17" x 19"
You will note in my last blog entry that I completely gave up on this darn chicken quilt.  It was just plain ugly.  And then I took a nap - and when I woke up I had one final idea to try.  The chicken obviously needed a cardigan sweater to warm her little body up.  So I found a CrazyWild piece of fabric with the same colors, fused it over the top of the finished quilt, and Voila!  She looked SO much better.  So I added some trim to the new sweater and some buttons and now I like the quilt.  Sometimes the way these quilts unfold amazes me.  Her name is Fiona Featherly..... but you can call her Fiona.     Barbara

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No More Chicken!

Sometimes you just have to give in and give up.  And today is the day that I am doing that with my Chicken Quilt.  No More Chicken!  Everything that I do to make it look better makes it look worse!  Yikes!

I guess this is one of those times when you put the quilt away in the Unmentionable Box at least for a while.  But I suspect that this is one of those quilts I will take out a year from now, look at and cut up into small pieces for another project.  Maybe I could take the border areas and make coasters??  All I know is that when a particular project becomes a frustration rather than a challenge - I need to just let it go and do something fun.

So what will I work on next?  Hmmmmmmmm..........              Barbara

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poor Chicken looks.....Naked!

The quilting is done and the feathers are added.... and I still don't like the way this one looks.  Boy is it ever hard to post things on a blog when you really don't like the way they look!  Too public!
But I do try to view problems as challenges - soooo - what is the challenge with this particular chicken?  For one thing the feathers aren't nearly as fluffy as I had hoped.  The spiny part of the feather was way too tiny to pierce with a needle so I had to sew them down more tightly than I had hoped.
But I think the problem is that the poor chicken looks like he has been plucked naked of all his feathers!  NOT a good look.  Way too much chicken body showing!  Is this just Thanksgiving guilt as I think of all the turkeys being consumed tomorrow?
The solution I am going to try is to paint part of the body as if the chicken is dressed - if you look very closely you can see that my quilting on his body suggests clothing.... more photos of a hopefully better looking chicken soon.              Barbara

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicken with No Feathers - yet...

So here is what my chickenish critter looks like so far.  Very bright colors.  I usually don't use a dark color for the background and a lighter color for the character.... but I really wanted the main body to be yellow. 

As you can tell this little critter has not been quilted and looks rather blah in spite of the bright colors.  I almost always want to throw my quilts away at this stage - I lose hope for a short period of time but then almost always like them again once they are quilted.  Since I do all of the outline stitching and the quilting at the same time, before this is done it seems like there is just no real personality in the quilt. 

But I should be posting a new photo of this quilt soon - perhaps it will even include the feathers!  Does it look more like a chicken or a turkey?  Or maybe neither?  Just not sure yet.....   Barbara

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crazy Feathers

I am ready to start my next quilt so I went to my stack of drawings that I have been using for inspiration these past few months and picked out this one - the wacky looking chickenish critter.  Once I pick a subject to use as inspiration, my next step is to make the pattern by tracing the drawing on a clear transparency and then using my scanner/copier to enlarge that outline drawing to "fit the page".
For this particular quilt, I had no fabric chosen to inspire the rest of the colors - but I did have this really great bunch of feathers with ridiculous colors and patterns.  I pick up things like this whenever I see them even though it might take a year to work its way into a project.  But aren't these crazy feathers fun?  I can't wait to get into my studio to start......    Barbara

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Ornament 5" x 5"
I don't usually make Christmas ornaments - although I LOVE the ornaments that I own and treasure the ones other people make.... but I needed to make an ornament for a friend and, quite frankly, was stumped for an idea.  I was inspired by a Quilting Arts article about adding hand stitching to quilts and this is the ornament that was born.  I like the non-traditional colors and the sparkly bits.  I do mention sparkly bits a lot, don't I?  I guess I am just a sparkly person!     Barbara

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lola has a Secret

Lola has a Secret  17" x 16"
Original drawing of Lola   6" x 4"
I am still having a totally wonderful time making quilts from the scribble drawings that I did a few weeks ago.  This one isn't quite as happy as the others - maybe a little worried about being lost in the woods?  Not sure exactly what her story is.  But her name is Lola.
You may notice that Lola's shoulders grew a bit as she became a quilt - it looked really goofy with the tiny shoulders in the original drawing.  I really enjoyed working the color black into a quilt for more drama.  And I especially like the sparkly bits on her very lovely hat.  What do you think Lola is thinking about?   Barbara

Back in Action

Hortense quilt 12" x 12"
Whew this has been a long couple of weeks!  Too many deadlines with other projects and not enough time to quilt - or to blog!  But I AM BACK and raring to go on projects.  Here is one little quilt that I made as a sample for a class that I will be teaching next August at the Arkansas Craft School in Mountain View.  The class is called Contemporary Quilting - Portrait Quilts.  We will be making a small quilt like this one that is just a Crazy Face and then we will make a more serious portrait quilt.  You can see some photos of my more serious faces in my October 21st post about my trunk show.  But this little gal is called Hortense.       Barbara

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where do YOU get inspiration? WalMart of course!

Inspiration comes from the strangest places.  You just have to be in the right mood to find the perfect items to add to your stash that will SURELY be treasures in the future.  Here is a photo of my latest finds from the jewelry department in WalMart.  The round pink metal bracelets will surely become hair of some sort for one of my quilts.  And the sparkly JEWELS on the three bracelets?  They will be cut apart and applies as sparkly bits for one of my art quilts.  The stretchy little number bracelets will have to be added to something - they were just too cute to resist.  All that fun for just a tiny amount of money - and who knows what they will become???

My Muse has been on vacation

With all that has been going on in my life, my inspiration has been to survive.  I haven't had time to be creative and I have felt dry.  Sort of like all the leaves that have fallen all around me.  I felt that I needed to make a thank you gift for the doctor and his wife.  This always inspires me to be creative and it changes my mind set in a positive way.  My Muse had no choice but to return.  Sometimes I have to threaten her with failure to get her to participate.  I need to remember this lesson since there is always someone in my life that needs a boost or a smile.  Lesson of the day: when inspiration takes a vaction, create something for someone else.  I will post the process and finished item when it is finished.  Jan
I always try to attempt something new with each new project.  This time I wondered what would happen if I fused sparkly organza to the top of the mugs, would they look like glass.  It made it look more clear but then I quilted it and the effect is barely visable.  In order to make the same fabric look different, I used bleach, Shiva paint sticks and Tsukineko ink.  
I am finished and ready to present "It's Still Life" to the Dr. and his wife on Thursday.  If they don't like it I hope that they will keep that a secret.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Building Challenges

I guess I am more successful with drawing characters than I am drawing buildings - even imaginary Seussical buildings.  Ah well.  But in spite of feeling inept at my Seussical experience - I did learn a lot.  About windows and shadows and such - and especially about HOW to add such things to a quilt.
The way the I accomplished the shading or side view of the curvy pink structure was to first fuse the pink shape (no holes yet) on top of a larger piece of blue fabric.  Then I cut out the blue shape to echo the pink shape.  So far so good!
Undulating Pink Quilt 15" x 21"
Then came the holes (or windows).  I cut holes thru the two layers of fabric already fused together with a tiny very sharp scissors.  And cut small slivers of blue that I carefully laid under each window and fused in place on my teflon sheet.  Then I added small scraps of gold to fill in the windows - and fused again.
You can imagine that the final pink, blue, gold contraption was somewhat thick by now.  But - on the positive side - it really did look like dimensional holes in the structure!  So that made me happy!
But here is the finished quilt - not my favorite but that's OK. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trunk Show for Piecemakers

I had the most amazing experience on October 20.  For the very first time in my life, I presented a Trunk Show telling about my Quilting Journey to a group of quilters in Clinton, AR.  I have never done anything like this before and getting ready for this presentation was a revelation for me.  I had to view my quilting journey and for the first time realized all of the very specific times and events that sent me in new directions.  Almost like a map of my blossoming as an Art Quilter.
I was nervous when I arrived at the meeting.  You see, I am a very very shy person!  I hide it well - but talking in front of groups makes me shake and shiver!  But as I sat watching and listening to this group of ladies who had so generously invited me to share my journey - I was quite charmed.  I have never seen such a happy group.  There was much laughter and joking in their business meeting - and then it was time for me to show them my quilts.  They were most gracious and accepting as I shared my story and got to show off my quilts.  What PURE JOY for a quilter!
Because my current path is so whimsical, I am posting a few photos of portrait quilts that I used to do - and intend to do again - just so the readers of this blog get to know me better.  I am going to be teaching a week long class at Arkansas Craft School in Mountain View next August called "Contemporary Quilting - Portrait Quilts".  It will include both whimsical Crazy Faces and more serious Portrait Quilts.  I will post photos as I work on the samples.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Arnold Is Fine

After much fretting I decided that Arnold needed to stand in a puddle of water.  So I added the puddle lines with stitching - and it looked sort of stupid because the puddle and the background were the same color.  So I painted the water a different color and then added a boundary line at the edge of the water with several lines of stitching.  I think that part works now.
But then I looked at his hand.  It needed something.  So red beads to match the border were the answer.  In my world Arnold is making a Wish and dropping Magic Red Jewels into the  Enchanted Wishing Pond!  I wonder what he is wishing?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trouble with Colors and Shapes

This is my newest little creature.  His name is Arnold.  And I am having a terrible time.  One of the ways that I am trying to stretch my creative boundaries is to use color more flamboyantly.  So once I decided that this was the next drawing that I wanted to make into a quilt, I chose a border fabric to inspire my color choice.  Notice it is RED.  So I wanted to use a light color as the background and some other color as the figure.  And this is where it stands right now.  And I am NOT sure it is working.
Although it may just be that there are no details yet.  But there is the problem of my new little guy sort of floating in space.... hmmmm.  Need to ponder this one for a while!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Did YOU see them?

OOOHHHH!  I just realized that you can spot Alice and Zoltan on the photo of my design wall from September 15!  I didn't realize they had been part of my life for that many weeks.     Sort of like little friends living in my studio......    How nice.      Barbara

Zoltan Gets a Present

Zoltan scan 4" x 6"
Zoltan Gets a Present quilt 13" x 15"
I just finished another quilt inspired by a scribble drawing.  After I made a bunch of these little drawings, I put them all on my design board - and then picked the ones that made me smile.  I thought this little guy was sweet and charming (OK he is sort of weird looking too but that's OK). 

Once I started the quilt I was stumped by the fact that the original drawing had just a squiggly line in his hand.  I almost gave him a butterfly - but that didn't seem to fit his personality.  I think he looks like he is anticipating a wonderful surprise once he opens his present.

The first draft of this quilt had completely different colors and was SO ugly I was just really depressed and left it sitting on the table overnight.  It was even uglier in the morning.  So I started over and really like the colors.  The rust colored border between the yellow and green was an afterthought - but I think it adds to the "portrait" quality of the quilt.

Now - which little creature should I work on next????         Barbara

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can You See What I See

Sometimes a piece of hand dyed fabric just yells "don't cut me up".  This was one of those pieces so I stared at it until I found different flowers within the colors.  I started by inking the most dominate ones and then outlined them with thick, black thread.  Using Tsukineko ink to give shadows, help define them along with thread painting. Machine quilting and painting are two of my favorite things to do.

The class sample is now finished and I will be teaching it in a couple of weeks.  Hope the students enjoy this process as much as I do. Jan

Monday, October 4, 2010

Finding your Inner Dr. Seuss

I just started to work on this new section of the drawing book that I have successfully used to draw squiggly critters. Drawing buildings is SO different than drawing people or animals - especially whimsical people or animals! But I am trying. My first effort has way too much going on but it was a great experiment and effort just to get over my clumsiness. I did really enjoy using my new set of Prismacolor pencils to add the color - reminded me of kindergarten!
My second drawing has some very specific problems - note the red shadows on BOTH sides of the purple thing - what was I thinking? Good learning experience though.

And the last one I sort of like. I seem to have a fondness for floating Swiss cheese planets - maybe that could be a quilt? We will see.......


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alice Has Something to Say!

4" x 6" scan of Alice
The cooler weather has me all energized and ready to go!  I just returned from a wonderful week of hiking and kayaking in Southern Illinois and today got to work on finishing my newest quilt.  Actually I started it before we left - and truth be told, it was hard to leave the quilt unfinished.  So I got right back to work when we got home. 
17" x 24" Alice Has Something to Say quilt
This is another one of my "scribble" drawings and I really enjoyed the design and watching her come to life.  AND I got to practice my machine quilting technique.  I can really tell that I just need a few hundred more hours to become more smooth in my hand motions..... uh huh!  But very very slowly it is getting less stressful and more fun.   Barbara

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Busy Busy Week

This week started with a dog, house sitting job in the beautiful Ozark Mountain.  The house feels like I am at a luxury spa minus the special attendants who pamper you.  The only pampering that is happening is by me as I totally spoil the queen of the palace.  Tally is a black lab that keeps me on my toes every minute as she tries to get my attention by stealing everything she can get her mouth on.  I desperately needed a replacement for myself since I had a trunk show in Little Rock on Monday so my good friend Cindy (the Dog Whisperer) saved the day.  She has a mysterious ability to get this sweet package of fur to do anything that she wants her to.  She told me that it works because she is the "pack leader".  I am a marshmallow so I don't have the same success that Cindy did.  We have spent the last few days relaxing and catching up together.  Today she left for Washington, DC as the nurse for the WWII vets who are going to see the memorial.

The trunk show was a great success.  If you ask me how I know, I will tell you that they laughed at all the right places and swooned at my art quilts.  The afternoon was filled with a class that I teach called "Tsukineko meets Aloe Vera"  and all the students were stars.  When I get home at the end of the month, I will post some pictures of the students work.


Butterflies in the Garden

Trout Unlimited Butterfly
So what do I do when I am not quilting? Lots of strange things - but this week I made 10 butterflies to go on table displays at the Trout Unlimited fundraising banquet. I cut up some beautiful notecard watercolor photos of a butterfly (from Heron Dance), fused purple batik fabric on the back, added beading wire for antennae with tiny blobs (don't you just love these "technical" terms?) of Stickles glitter glue on the end to make them sparkle. Always having fun....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Too many ideas - how to choose?

Drawings using watercolor blobs as inspiration
Finding an idea for my next quilt has rarely been my problem.  I always have a list of ideas to try or new techniques to experiment with - the problem is narrowing down my list and PICKING just one.  And the drawings that I am creating from this new book are a perfect example.  This first picture is more of the watercolor technique.  I like them all but some more than others.... I think what draws me to certain ones is that they have a personality to them.

Drawings using Picasso technique and scribbles
 The second picture is a bunch of drawings from the Picasso technique and also some from another new technique where you just start with a scribble and then see what it becomes.  Truthfully a lot of those end up in the wastebasket because they don't turn into anything but scribbles!  But I really like some of them.  You can tell the Picasso ones from the scribbles because the Picasso ones have different sized eyes.    Barbara

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Colorful New Critter

Well Norman is finished and I like him. Especially his sweet little face.

I have been busy drawing lots more little critters and can't decide which one to work on next.  This is such a new and wonderful surprise for me - to be able to create drawings that are ALL mine.  What a joyous experience!
18" x 15" Norman quilt

Yesterday I showed my fellow art quilters how to do some of the new drawing exercises.  Our group is called the Renegades and we have such fun at our meetings.  Well they did such a great job making beautiful creative drawings - I wonder if any of their drawings will end up becoming quilts?   Barbara

Friday, September 10, 2010

Painting Champions

The ladies in Little Rock are all stars at painting with Tsukineko Ink and Aloe Vera.  Here is some of their work. Enjoy

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crazy Days and New Projects

7 1/2" x 5" scan of Norman drawing
What a weird couple of days.  On Monday I sliced my thumb open while changing my rotary cutter blade and required four stitches at the emergency room.  Yes I was being VERY careful and I still have no idea how it happened.  I actually think I am very lucky it wasn't even worse.  AND I have a whole new appreciation for thumbs.  I had to literally sit for two days and do nothing that required my hands - and nearly went bonkers!  It made me realize how much my quilting lends calm and balance to my life.
But enough of "poor me".  I am now back working - VERY carefully - and have focused on a new drawing exercise as a quilt.  In this exercise you paint blobs of watercolor (red, blue and yellow) on a small piece of watercolor paper and, after it is dry, look at the intersections of color and find the shape of an animal.  Some of my animals weren't too interesting - but I really like this one.  His name is Norman.  The quilt should be finished in a day or two.  Barbara

Monday, September 6, 2010

Aloe Vera Meets Tsukineko

I will be going to Little Rock next week to do a trunk show and class for QUEST quilt guild.  The class is on using Aloe Vera and Tsukineko ink to paint a simple lily.  A class sample is always a tricky thing since everyone wants it close to them.  I decided to become a walking class sample which may work better than passing a sample around.  I just painted this shirt as the sample and the only down side is that if you want to see the lilies, you will spend a lot of time looking at my butt.  Didn't think this plan through too well.  Maybe nobody will notice that it is wider than normal.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Golden Girl Quilt

I did make a small quilt from the Picasso Critters lesson.  And it was fun.  She is pretty strange but she makes me smile.  One of my ongoing challenges is to use different values of fabric - I usually use too many dark.  Originally my little creature was going to be on a dark purple fabric but I heard my good friend Jan's voice in my ear saying "Needs Contrast!" so I changed to the lavender - and I think it is a lot better.  I included a close up so you could see her sparkly lips and eyelashes!

Golden Girl Quilt with borders

16" x 10"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Picasso critters

4" x 2 1/2 "
4" x 2 1/2"
I am working on a series of drawing exercises to find my "style" of drawing.  I have always been able to copy other drawings, but have great difficulty finding my own style and drawing freely from my imagination.  That is until I got the book Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists by Carla Sonheim.  Totally amazing book.  These two drawings are from Lab 19 where you draw sort of like Picasso.  I especially like the blue and green one - I think I will make it into a quilt.  Barbara

Dancing in the Rain Quilt

In July we went to visit friends in Marquette Michigan and stayed at the beautiful home.  Each time we sat down to eat I saw the most charming drawing from Linda's granddaughter Naomi.  It made me smile because it was just so happy.  The original drawing had been inspired by two race car stickers that made her think of shoes - and the drawing grew from there.  I asked if I could take it home and make a quilt of the drawing and was lucky enough to get that opportunity.
Well.  It was more challenging than I thought it would be.  One of the biggest challenges was finding the correct fabric to match (or at least come close to) the skirt.  But I love challenges and I really enjoyed making this quilt.  The original drawing was 8 1/2" x 11", the quilt is 12" x 16". I included the close up so you could see the lovely little zipper and the raindrops.
A friend asked if I want to do more quilts from children's art and I do - but only if the drawing really interests me - so we will see......  Barbara

Dancing in the Rain Quilt

Dancing in the Rain Quilt, 12" x 16"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Between Sets

I love this quilt. I sold it to a good friend and am just tickled that it now lives in his house.
The black and white fabric for the jacket was a skirt that I found at a rummage sale - it was a really ugly skirt but a really great jacket because the black and white squares are some sort of sparkly little squares that in real life catch the light beautifully and add a lot to the quilt.
This quilt was in the Arkansas Governor's Calendar in 2008.  Barbara

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blog Day One

Since I am very new to this process, this whole thing may be deleted before anyone sees it.

My latest project had a very interested birth.   I belong to a small art quilting group and every year on our birthday month, we each give the birthday girl a fat quarter of fabric.  This year I decided before I got there that I would create a wall hanging using all of the fabric that I was given.  That can be a real challenge to get 7 fabrics that will go together with some kind of harmony.  To my suprise, they all had some relationship to each other so I felt that I had hit the jackpot. Let me know what you think.