Thursday, March 16, 2017

Snow Days!

Well, the winter was feeling pretty mild until recent days.  I can't say I was missing all the shoveling and hazardous travel.  But, I must also admit that the coating of glistening white frosting certainly adds to an otherwise gray and dull landscape.  The morning and evening light gives the drifts of snow hues of blue, purple and soft pinkish tints.  As I look at it from my wood stove warmed house, it looks very peaceful.

So, along with the coming of the snows, I was granted a few days off of work.  Some unexpectedly and others quite obvious.  Last Friday there was a magical dusting of snow that seems to only stick to the grass and natural areas.  The roads had been warmed by the sun and so as it fell, it seemed to just melt away.  But, the forecast was not good, so I had the day off of work.  I decided that after finishing my last piece, I should clean up a bit.  That lasted about 2 minutes and once I saw the pile of scraps that were on my table.  I was immediately distracted and began moving them around and rearranging them.  I decided to start putting them up on my design wall and within a relatively short period of time, I had this piece loosely pinned to the foam board.

17 3/4 " X 17 3/4 "

The scraps were already pieced together in some cases and the other parts were all in the same pile of leftovers.  I have been looking at the abstract style of cruciform paintings and pinning them on Pinterest as a kind of brain exercise.  With no reference to anything whatsoever during the process of this piece, I made this cruciform.  I was going to name if table scraps, but decided that "Spring Snow" was perhaps more appropriate, since that was the event that allowed this to take shape.  

The scraps are raw edge qppliqued in place using straight line machine quilting.  Rather than complicate the piece with elaborate or free motion work, I thought the form should follow function of stitching in place.  I think it's a good first attempt at a cruciform.  I plan to try some more using paper.  We'll see how that works out.

Now, for the second storm.  A nor'easter.  This storm was well forecasted and much anticipated.  If you weren't prepared, it wasn't because it was a surprise.  I got an early call of school closing and once again, took a look at my table for inspiration.  I collected some of each of the fabrics I used in my "Bridges" piece. and added some mistyfuse to the back.  I like it better than wonderunder.  It seems to hold better and tolerate my acrylic mediums and paints more easily.  I named this series "Nor'easter".  It looks like the circling radar and has the white swirls and shades of blue that drifts of snow seem to produce in varying light.  I might be taking some liberty here, but it's art - so let's not take ourselves too seriously.  

12" x 12" mounted on gallery canvas

I've done this type of work before and it's a nice change from using the sewing machine.  I fused the fabric arcs down on some cotton batik.  Then I trimmed the squares to 6" x 6".  I attached them with matte medium to the canvas that I had prepared with some dark teal paint to that if there were any gaps, they'd be colored.  I also prepainted the sides of the canvas.  

Once the matte medium dried, I used paint markers, Lumiere metallic paints, Golden acrylics and various stamping tools to add marks to each quandrant.  It's busy but the added pattern helps hold the piece together.  

Once I was cutting, I was on a roll.  So, I made extra squares and mounted them on 6" x 6" pieces of 1/2 inch birch board that I got from Home Depot.  I bought a large 2' X 4" piece and then used a table saw to cut them down.  I also sanded and gessoed the boardsbefore I prepainted the edges and back. 

Here they are.  I think they'd hang nicely as a separated group to show the circle or in a row or column.

With all of these sealed with UV protective sealer and ready to hang, I'm on to the next endeavor.  Not sure what that will be.  However, I am taking advantage of the snow to do a bit of snow dying.  Trying some new combinations and overdying some pieces that were okay in my stash but weren't really special in any way.  They're on the rack and I'll keeep you posted on how they are used.  

Thanks for checking out the blog.  Feel free to leave a comment or question.  In the meantime, stay warm and enjoy the view.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017


I'm Back!  It's been a while - creative blocks to overcome and time the ever limiting factor have not been on my side but, I finished a piece this week and here it is.  I titled it "Bridges" for a couple reasons.  First, in each block, there is a piece of fabric that goes the length or width of the block and looks similar to the shape of a bridge structure.  Second, I am using this piece to bridge the gap from a period of less art quilting activity to a recent creative burst that I am experiencing.  I think I finally stopped trying to think about what others might like and just did what I do.  I got into that funk after a year of hanging my work in a gallery and thinking about what might sell.  Big mistake.

So, I chose a color palette and away I went.

Here is the first row.

  The blocks are pieced from commercial batiks, crossweaves, hand dyes and commercial cotton prints.  It took a week to get this done and THEN... it came!  Snow and the snow day that accompanied it.  Woohoo!  I haven't had a snow day in two years so I made the most of it.

Again, here is my white flannel design wall and the second row is pieces.  These are not attached yet but each square is 10 1/2 inches on all sides.  I'm getting somewhere.

Snowing like crazy and third row complete.  I'm liking the color progression from light to dark.  Two rows to go.  I had some pictures on my phone of the progression but I inadvertently deleted them.  Oops! So here is the final piece and a few close ups that I might use to make greeting cards from.

Finished size 29 1/2 inches by 49 1/2 inches

I machine quilted this in wavy rows and used light thread at the top and darker threads as I progressed down the blocks.  Here's a few close ups.

Thanks for checking out the blog.  Feel free to leave a comment.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Creative Art Workshop

Happy Monday!  It's in the single digits here but yesterday an intimate group of creative people stayed warm by joining me for my first in a series of creative art workshops.  It was held at the Sunrise Yoga Studio in my hometown of Branchville, NJ.   After taking part in a paint and sip hosted by a good friend of mine, I decided that I would like to try my hand at teaching an art event.  Now, I'm no painter - as many of you who have viewed this blog before will attest to.  So, I decided to make it a workshop that focused on various processes and layering to create unique pieces that spoke to the individual.  I used my recent Yin-Yang series as a guide and here are the results.

We started with some thoughtful under layering of images and text that spoke to each person.
Then we painted the first layer of paint.  We used analogous colors and and blended them with some acrylic blending medium.
You can see how the under layer comes through the first layer of paint and even when it is obscured, the intention is in the piece.
We cut some stencils of the Yin-Yang - it required a bit of math but everyone seemed to survive it - and there was wine available.
One the stencil was cut, we used painter's tape to hold them in place so we could add our second layer of paint.  At this table everyone chose the same first layer colors, however each of their pieces turned out very different from each other.

After the second layer of paint and a bit of outlining, the artists added some extra collage pieces in the negative space and Voila! Personalized and meaningful art pieces.  That's a good Sunday afternoon spent!

Thanks to Cassia, owner of Sunrise Studio and all the participants for a fun afternoon.  I'm hoping to get some folks out on February 5th for my second workshop.  Yeah, I know it's Superbowl Sunday - but we're going to start early and you'll still have time to get to the guacamole and chips and to watch your favorite commercials and musical artists at halftime.  Let's face it, if your favorite team isn't playing that's the most interesting part anyway.  Hope you can join us!

Thanks for checking out the blog and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Yin-Yang Series

Thank you for visiting, I've been away for a while.  I usually take time in the summer to produce a lot of art, but this summer was more about getting outside and doing some hiking, biking and kayaking.  Now that I am back to school, I seem to have better time management and have been back in the studio.

Over the summer I was lucky to take a 2-week training course with Robert Peng, an internationally renown Qigong Teacher and Healer.  It was intense and energizing all at once.  I am adding this work to my Reiki Master work and have been treating people for various health concerns since my return.

So, I decided that on one of the blank walls in my treatment room, I wanted to hang a Yin-Yang.  Any of you know how about Chinese healing would understand the meaning, but I won't go into it on this forum.

So I made three pieces so far and I am trying to figure out what color to make it so that I can make one that is 24" X 24" to hang in my treatment room.  So far I like the ones that I have made but none of them are the color that I will use on the larger piece.

No. 1
12" X 12"

Someone gave me this red, laser-cut, tissue paper a while back and I believe it is to protect your home in Chinese culture.  So, I figured this was a good place to use it.  I also collaged book pages and paper bits.  Then I painted it various shades of blue.  I hand-cut a stencil and painted the Yin-Yang in metallic champagne.  Finally, I gave it a wash of quinacridone nickel azo gold and added a few finishing touches.

Here's the close up...

So far I have made three but none are the color I will use in you treatment room.  But as I practice, I am getting different results and I like the whole process.  

No. 2

8" X 8"
I used some old paper towel that I had cleaned up a spill with for the turquoise.
The doilies were from some restaurant dessert plate.  I would never go and buy doilies.  I'm not very girlie.  

 6" X 6"

I included some papers that I rusted last year in the base collage on this piece.  

So, thank you for stopping by, especially since it has been so long since I last posted.  I would love to read your comments.  Wishing you good health and a lot of Qi.  (pronounced chee and meaning life force energy)  

Monday, May 9, 2016


Onto my third Buddha inspired piece.  The first one reminds me to be present - and you can see a presence of a Buddha once you stop and become aware.  Which is how presence works.  The second one was called Stillness.  It reminded me of stone and so the name was born from the quality of using stillness to just be in meditation.  And so, here is the third piece, it is called " Happiness".  Often being present and just being is all you need to achieve happiness, even though we often think that it requires so much more.

11" X 14"

Here is a piece that certainly has movement and so it might not appear as stillness, but I love it because it is all the colors that I see when I meditate and just close my eyes sometimes.  So, to me it represents the happiness that I feel when I am still and present in my quiet meditation space.

I mounted it on a gallery canvas with the edges painted black.  Simple but effective.

Feel free to leave a comment or question.  Any of you fellow meditation enthusiasts, I'd love to hear from you!  Thanks for stopping by the blog.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Experimentation and Getting Back Into the Swing

So, along with creating a beautiful new studio in my former living room, there were a few other changes in my life.  My husband came out of semi-retirement and took a full time + job.  Which shouldn't affect my day but, it has.  With his time being fully committed to his new job, many of the tasks and errands I had grown accustomed to not having to do have been put back on my plate.  Here's the problem with that.  Once they were off my plate, I filled my plate with other things - so my plate was never empty, just replenished with other things.  Art took on more of my time as I not longer had to go food shopping or do specific things around the house.  I was very aware of this and grateful on a daily basis for my new found dispensable time.  Now, here's the rub - I created a new space and have less time to spend in it.  But, I'm working on it and finding ways to get back into the studio.

I have completed a couple of pieces that I am posting here.  One is a faux encaustic experiment that I really like.  The other is a quilt that started as a random piece and then showed itself to me as the Buddha - and so it is.
7 3/4 " X 7 3/4 "  on 3/8" thick birch board

Here is a portion of the piece that shows the eye.

Here is a detail of the Third Eye that has been accented by an earring that I repurposed.

Here is the entire Buddha quilt, which is not an entire Buddha.  It takes a moment to see it but, then the face appears.  The measurements for this piece is 19" X 40".

So thanks for checking it out.  I appreciate any comments you want to share.  Have a fantastic day!

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's a Movement!

Please keep in mind Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" as you read this blog post.  It came to me in the final hour of moving my home studio to it's now current and wonderful location.

I live in a center hall colonial in northwestern New Jersey together with my husband, Gary and Radar and Shadow the cats.  Somewhere around Thanksgiving my husband agreed to allow me to move my sewing studio and painting area from their respective places - upstairs in a small office space and downstairs in a partially finished basement, to our woefully underused formal living room.  We donated our furniture to a young couple just starting out and whoosh empty space!  We painted the walls - my husband calls the color white - but I keep reminding him it is actually called "spun cotton",

I was so excited that I started to map out the space.  I used graph paper and measured all the furniture, floor space and wall space.  I proceeded to map the room out to scale to be sure that moving all of my stuff into one place would make sense.  I mapped the northwest corner, the southwest corner the approach and the getaway.  This was done using both aerial views and a scale diagram of each wall and all of the things that I planned to hang on each wall.  With circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.   I repurposed as many items as possible and I also used a vintage cabinet that I bought impulsively at an auction for $10.  (It was a small impulse, dumb, but not financially impacting.)  I also took all the dividers out of a cabinet that held CDs and stereo components.  Finally, I had to purchase some new plastic storage containers.

And so we removed the Christmas trimmings on December 26th, prepared the room on December 27th and painted on the 28th.  After that the task of sorting and organizing was all mine.  I admit that there was a little bit of self loathing when I realized all that I had accumulated.  Some purchased but many things that were given to me and I just couldn't say no.  There were also items that were purchased to take or teach a class and the leftovers piled up.  I just kept putting it all in bins and a closet so I wouldn't have to take out the garbage for a very long time.  However, this move produced at least 4 or possibly 5 large Hefty bags worth of garbage - which we threw in the garage for later removal.  I started by leaving the garbage bags in the upstairs studio and downstairs but finally decided that rather than have 2 small piles of garbage it would be better to have one large pile and so we threw them in the garage.  Today my wonderful husband will be putting them in his red CRV (updated version of a VW microbus) and taking them to the dump.

And so after a productive and non-stop Winter Break from school, here is my completed studio.  I finished last night just before dinner and am anxious to get in there and actually create something - now that I have created a great space.

The Northwest Corner

This area holds the sewing machine, thread, sewing tools and some bins of sorted and labelled fabric.  It has a little natural light but the whole room is illuminated by a 4 foot long LED fixture that is so bright you need very little extra lighting.  And according to the package, I can leave it on for 35 years or so 24/7 before it burns out.

The Northeast Corner

This area has the painting table, buttons, fabric, mixed media and my extensive collection of painted papers and ephemera.  There is also a shelf with all of my mediums.  It is jammed with supplies both on shelves and in the cabinet.  There is a stool back there too.

The Approach

The French doors lead into the family room.  The table folds down on both sides so I can have more space when I need to move around and more surface area when I need to work.  On the far wall is a design wall that I created from a piece of foam insulation sewn into a sleeve of white flannel and white duck cloth.  

The Southwest Wall

This side of the room has the $10 auction purchase on the left, a track with steel cables to hang my finished work and the CD cabinet on the right.  The hanging system is made by Gallery One and is very easy  to use.  The work you see hanging is headed to a Skylands Gallery in Wantage, NJ for exhibit today.  

Here are some additional images.
Vintage linens below, fabric sorted by color  or type inside and on top.  

A view from behind the sewing machine.  I tried to keep the  most used tools within arms reach.  

Everything in this picture was repurposed.  It was removed from my studio walls and rehung here.  My button collection in vintage jars just makes me happy every time I see it.

A view from behind the painting area.  Everything in this picture was repurposed from the original area.  Notice how bright the ceiling light fixture makes the room from corner to corner.

So thanks for visiting my new studio with me.  Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.  I'd be happy to help you if you are deciding to take over a space that could be put to better use.  In fact, I recommend it whole heartedly.  

So imagine if one person creates a new space, they might call it an inspiration.  If two people create a new space they might call them rebels and stay out of their way.  But if three people, can you imagine, three people create a new space well, they'd call it a movement.  And that's what it is the The New Studio Anti-Wasted Space Movement.  

Sing it with me:

You can get anything you want
At Claude's new studio
You can get anything you want (exceptin' Gary)
At Claude's new studio  
Walk right in, it's around the back
Just your favorite things and a cool thread rack
You can get anything you want
At Claude's new studio. 
Da - Da - Da - Da - Da -Da - Da - Da
At Claude's new studio....