Everybody’s Quilt Guild

portrait wall

This past Fall I was contacted by a local quilting group (Everybody’s Quilt Guild) to speak at a July meeting about my art quilts.  At the time of the booking, I had returned to school and didn’t yet know where my education would take me.  But I knew that whatever path I ended up on would include sewing, so I gratefully accepted. When I started back to full time work in mid-May I lost some of my drive to work on my art.  The last big piece I had done, The Wage Earner, hadn’t gain much traction out of the blog-o-sphere and I was feeling a bit discouraged.  But in the process of preparing for my talk, I reviewed all the pieces I had done and put them in chronological order.  I have to admit I was astounded at the amount of work I had produced in such a brief period of time.  My first quilted portrait was completed in the Fall of 2012 — that’s not quite 2 years ago.  And despite the part time work, then education schedule, I’ve made 27 quilted portraits, got 12 pieces into shows,  and sold 7 of them!  Not bad.

The show went wonderfully, by the way.  Now I’m not saying it went off without a hitch.  The projector we brought refused to communicate with our computer (which is where mytalking to group power point was stored).  My poor husband rushed to the store, twice.  First to get a replacement cord, then for a replacement projector.  The ladies who ran the meeting were gracious and kept things going until I had all my ducks in a row. The entire time I was surprised at how calm I felt. Terry said it was because I was “talking to my people” :)  There must be something to that because in the first 15 seconds I completely discarded my carefully crafted notes.  I had everything written down — I even highlighted the words which led up to the change of slide so my husband would know when to switch frames.  That all fell apart and I had to tap him with my toe (read: give him a slight kick) to get him to switch slides.  It all led to some laughs, which really broke the ice for me.

In order to better explain my process, I created two new picture quilts for the talk.  One quilted, and the other just pieced.  At the end of my talk I demonstrated my process.  It starts with the numbering of my color values….the picking of and labeling corresponding colors …. then the cutting and pasting…. Finally all that work (and a bit of sewing) will result in the final piece…..

A final thank you to the ladies at the Everybody’s Quilt Guild — thanks for listening and being so gracious with your comments and encouragement.  I look forward to working with you in the future. :)



jfk 3 fdsdfs









finished quilt

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Migrant Mother


Almost a year ago I was challenged by a fellow artist to “sew what I know”.  She advised that if I created work that inspired me, I would in turn inspire others.  With that in mind I want to share with you my latest piece.  For those of you who do not recognize the original work, this piece is based on an iconic photograph by Depression Era photographer, Dorothea Lange.  Her photo, Migrant Mother (1936), perfectly encapsulates the emotion of the Great Depression.  I think I remember first seeing it in college, but it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I found myself identifying with the woman depicted.

Florence Thompson was the mother of seven children at the time this photograph was taken.  She worked in the fields, following the harvest of the crops in California.  When Dorothea came upon her, she and her family were stranded at a pea farm.  The crops they hoped to pick were frozen and their car’s timing chain had snapped.  The desperation Florence must have been feeling was perfectly captured in Dorthea’s photograph.  What I have chosen to do is modernize this mother’s plight.

I left my chosen field to stay at home and raise my children full time back in 1995.  Over the years I have returned to part time work here and there to help make ends meet and I have discovered something  both daunting andMaho1 depressing.  Given no perks, no regular hours, no real direction and, worst of all, no trust, I found myself working as hard as I could in faceless system. All without hope for true advancement or to have a chance at meaningfully impacting our family’s finances.  I have been fortunate that my husband has remained gainfully employed, and doubly so since he has provided for me the opportunity to return to school and create a new future for my family.  I know many people do not have that option.

So that is why I recreated Dorothea Lange’s iconic photograph.  In my opinion, the times haven’t changed all that much.  Today my daughter and I saw a small tent community in the woods off a local highway.  She asked why people were camping on a school day ….



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twain looks on

On ShipRecently I received an email from a student at the college where my nudes are on display.  For his Design Class, he was assigned the task of writing a paper on one of the show’s pieces and chose my “On Ship” as his subject matter.  He had a few questions for me: where did I make my piece (in my living room), is it a recent piece (yes, made for the show) and what was my intent…. Uh oh….  What was my intent?  Why did I chose to depict a naked sailor on a WWII era ship in the middle of the ocean surrounded by a convoy, all done in blacks and whites, except for the American flag and the swirling ocean? Yikes!!  Is this a Freudian question?  Do I have to have an answer?

I thought carefully before responding to Adam.  I tend to not think very deeply about what draws me to a subject matter;  when the inspiration knocks,  I invite it in with open arms. But because I am not a trained artist, I desperately did not want to offend this college student with my lack of conscious effort.  I wrote back that I read about the show in an open calls for artists and  was intrigued to try my hand at a nude figure.  My initial thought on the subject was that through the years, women have had more than their fair share of attention in this regard and I wanted to show a nude male.  In searching public domain figures, I found this naked sailor almost immediately.  Something intrigued me about his smile and I started to think of where I should put him.  As at the beginning of every idea I have for an art piece, I talked with my husband.  He suggested on board a ship and *POW* — the image I ended up with is the one that popped into my head at that moment.  As to why I chose that image and in the setting I placed him in,  I don’t know.  What I wrote to Adam was this….

“I like the idea of art for art’s sake.  I think it is the obligation of the viewer to take from the piece what they will.  After all, you know nothing about me.  I am married to a former Marine who served overseas and on board ship.  I am the granddaughter of a Merchant Marine who traversed the Pacific during WWII.  These are the reasons I was probably drawn to portraying this sailor — but how could you know that?  What is important (to me, at least) is that you liked the piece — something about it drew you to it.  Any further interpretation of it lies with you”.

I was hoping that this explanation did not come across as a cop-out.  It wasn’t.  I wrote what a wrote with a very good friend in mind.  This summer, Lisa drove Carmen and myself into NYC to attend the opening of the show for my ‘Michelle: The First Lady.  At the beginning of a tour of galleries, while everyone was standing around discussing the pieces on display, Lisa turned to me and said “Art makes me feel stupid”.  Lisa is one of the smartest people I know.  She holds a master’s degree and is the Director of Clinical Services in South Orange NJ for Children’s Aid and Family Services.  She is a deep thinker, but art makes her feel dumb.  And I know what she means.  I believe art shouldn’t be something you need to study to simply appreciate.  I am not saying that the study of art is unnecessary – techniques, history, movements — understanding these things is as important as understanding human history.  Art and man’s need to express himself go hand in hand, after all.  But I do like art for art’s sake.  And if it speaks to you, makes you smile, if it holds a message for you — then that’s the art for me.

Adam wrote back (it was weeks later and I was really afraid I had offended him – but Terry reminded me I was dealing with a college student ;) ).  He thanked me for my reply and said “It is finals week and I’m totally bub admires artdelirious. I’ll send you a copy of my highly complimentary report as soon I’m finished with it.  Thanks again for submitting your picture. It made me truly happy”.  My piece spoke to someone and made them happy.  What more could I ask for?

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The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon

Darryl Quilt

Darryl quilt upclose In season 2, I fell in love  Daryl Dixon with this one quote “Am I the only one zen around here? Good Lord!”  And apparently I’m not the only one.  I wanted to do a quilt of him with his bow on his back and found this great online image  outside the prison.  I had to work with 5 different color groupings to get the details right (normally I stick to just one range) — but it was worth it!

And I got it done just in time for the second part of season 4 :)  Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Darryl full sized quilt

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The Au Naturel Show Opens

On Ship

AuNat Reception-61Isn’t technology amazing?  I was unable to attend the The Au Naturel Art Show, but I could watch the opening night reception online — live.  How cool is that? While I sat in my chilly office, drinking a glass of wine and listening to the juror, Charles Froelick (owner and director of the Froelick CharlesGallery in Portland) talk about the pieces he picked for the show, I must admit I got a little weepy.  I often say/write that I am humbled by the attention my pieces sometimes get, and this was never more true than that night.  Charles said he was grateful for everyone who submitted art because as”you are putting it out there for the world to see… you are very brave.  You are making something that is meaningful to you and you are wanting it to resonate with someone else“.  He also explained his choice of a variety of mediums and styles; “it is like going to a variety of movies“.  If you check out the gallery page, you’ll see what he means.  I wanted to thank Charles for including my pieces among the talent represented at the show.

Kristin ShauckA big”thank you” should go out to Kristin Shauck who organized everything for the show.  She was also kind enough to answer the emails I sent her (even though I know how busy she was).  After the show she created a drop-box for the pictures from the opening, which I’ve included here.  This enabled me to see where they placed my pieces, which was really kind of exciting.  I’ve included a photo of the live feed set up and you can play a little “I Spy” and try to find one of my pieces. :)my picture

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Patches and Patterns Quilt Exhibit

on display

I am very happy to once again have some of my pieces displayed locally at the Carroll Arts Center.  Fan takes a shotFrom January 9th to February 22nd the Arts Center has on display over 30 quilts by local artists (a few of whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for some time now).  Some are more traditional quilting artists, while others work along the same vein that I do (check out Karen’s site for examples of her work).  It is a true honor to be included in their number.

For the show I submitted 5 pieces (all portraits) and called my collection Artists and Authors.  I am posting photos of each one here and including the text Terry wrote to go along with each piece (he was so creative in tying them all together — Love you, honey!)  The following is his summary for the collection.

“These are familiar faces of American culture — all icons with whom we may carry on personal relationships.  They are in our homes, in our words, our movies, our music and life.  We know so much about them, we’re on a first name basis”.


Johnny Cash Ring of Fire full size

His music, powerful and evocative, was born of an internal struggle to be good to those around him while still dancing around the fire that was his inspiration.


Lizard King full sizeAn American icon of the 60’s, the Lizard King was both mesmerizing and emblematic of the darker side of the counter culture — down to his untimely end when he joined the 27 Club.


Stephen King full sizeA master who writes in black and white and yet creates a brilliant tapestry of color and wonder, often starting with a single drop of blood.


Mark Twain full sizeThe American voice of his time, as important for the standards you read in grade school as he was for his acerbic wit and biting commentary.  He amplified a style that was born among the pamphleteers of the New World and perfected by the likes of Mencken.


Purple Poe full size

Created a genre; progenitor of swaths of our pop culture landscape.  His legacy only tainted by a jealous contemporary who painted a picture of drunken pathos.  A singular master of his art.

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What do I get her for Christmas?


terry and anneAnyone who follows this blog knows that my husband is my biggest supporter. He seems to have this undying faith in my abilities. And while I may want to believe that this is based on everything I have done in my life, I know that isn’t true. You see, I have had the privilege of knowing his mother for 24 years.

I like to think of myself as a Jack of all Trades, but a master of none. I do minor construction & I also work in fabric (obviously). My mother-in-law was the master. She not only did minor construction, but at 60 moved out to California to attend the College of the Redwoods to become a fine furniture maker. She sewed clothes (her dress for our wedding!), quilts, crocheted, embroidered, knitted… I will always treasure the embroidery she did of our home. She used a 3X5 photograph, divided it into 1/4″ squares to pixilate it and perfectly recreated my home in a cross-stitch pattern of her own design. All without a computer. What an amazing talent.

So when my husband came into our marriage, he brought me a HUGE pair of shoes to fill. Not on purpose — it was just the life he was used to. Need a porch extended? Mom can do that (and I did). Need costumes for Halloween? Mom can do that (did that, too). I don’t think anyone else has influenced the course of my life as much as she has — all without saying a word. She was Terry’s example of what a mother can do. And because of his expectations, it is the mother I have become. Not to say we are entirely alike, because we aren’t. But the older I get, the more I see our similarities and the more I understand the influence she has had on me.

I am telling all of this because I want to share Terry’s story of his mom. He just came back from a visit with her in Florida, where she lives in the memory ward at a senior citizen home. I’m re-blogging the story to honor her, and him

Originally posted on Secret Blog #2:

I am faced with a particularly difficult Christmas gift decision this year.

This person lost her mother while still a child. Her mother was adventurous to the point of fearlessness (something this Marine appreciates) and died while engaged in an impromptu cliff ascent. Shortly after the funeral she was shipped to convent schools “back East” by her distant but class-conscious father.

She scraped out her mothering style from the good nuns she knew, but thankfully didn’t pick up on their institutional cooking methods. “It all goes to the same place anyway” was one of the sister’s common refrain. She cooked foods that ran counter to the 70s fondue revolution. She wouldn’t think twice about making Pollo en Pane; a whole chicken baked inside a giant loaf of French bread, and didn’t need recipes for most of her baking endeavors (an exact science, is baking).

She graduated with honors, then got…

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