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 Textile Evolution

Liz Kettle Artist, Author and Creator of the Stitch Meditation process

Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Time, Being Enough and Junk Yards

I meant to write this post last week but time has been very wily the last few weeks and it seems to be hard to corral. I have  been reading Brene Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection the last few days. There is a lot of great stuff in her book...simple thoughts to remind me what is important in my life. Like, taking time to just be, hang out with my family, read a book, make some art, take a friend to tea for her birthday. At the end of the day, I tend to focus on what I didn't get done rather than what I did do...which results in a feeling of inadequacy that is always present. You know...the 'if I was better organized I would have gotten it all done' or 'Sheeesh...why can't you manage to keep just one counter clean'. I am my own worse nag and it makes me feel terrible. Why do I beat myself up so much about things that really just aren't important.  So, from here on out my plan is to reflect at the end of each day on the things I did accomplish rather than my failures.

With that in mind I will not nag myself for being an imperfect blogger but will tell you about my great field trip 9 days ago...when the weather was warm!

Sangre de Cristo Arts Center

I have a couple of great textile and mixed media groups that meet in Monument and Colorado Springs. One of these groups, Discovery, decided to go on a field trip to Pueblo (about an hour south) to see a quilt exhibit at the Sangre de Cristo art center. We were treated to two great shows both connected by the topic of 'children's books and art'. The first exhibit, Winter Lights: A Season in Poems and Quilts by Anna Hines was a delightful pairing of children's winter poems and quilts that illustrated them. The quilts were traditional in construction and design but most had a contemporary feel. The construction was simply amazing...meticulous paper piecing of tiny spiraling log cabins...often executed all in black. Incredible workmanship to celebrate winter.

The second exhibit was my favorite. Stephen Johnson has taken the art of letters and numbers to a new level. I had not seen his books previously as I am a bit out of the children's art book temporarilyas my kids are too old and my grands too young but I think these might find a spot on my shelf. Stephen Johnson's art shows a wide range of styles which made me feel a bit better about my own eclectic mix of work. There were works from Alphabet City, City by Numbers and my favorite, A is for Art which features abstract art and the descriptions of the art works were alliterative poetry themselves. The abstract pieces included fake french fries, lime ladders and red rubber bands in a big pile. They were fun and not quite so serious.  Stephen Johnson's work in Alphabet City and City by Numbers is totally different, watercolor, pencil and pastels worked in a photo-realistic style. It was so much fun looking to find the letters or numbers in the paintings, some were obvious, some were in the negative space and some you had to really look for. Unfortunately, both these shows are done but you can get the books!

After the shows we grabbed a quick lunch at the little cafe on the premises, Francos...what a treat that was. Francos' had a great selection of gluten free offerings that were really tasty! Cross contamination is a big concern for me when eating out but the chef assured me that he completely understood because his daughter was very sensitive as well. YAY! I had a great messy sandwich...what a treat. Those not eating gf were all delighted in their meals so if you go to Pueblo check it out!

We tacked on a little side trip that was the polar opposite of the art center experience. The junk yard! Oh my gosh we must have looked so funny...two cars pull up and 8 ladies get out exclaiming with delight over the piles of rusty junk. I am sure the owners are still shaking their heads. We had a great time looking for tool boxes to repurpose for art supplies and intriguing rusty shapes to use for rusting fabrics. I also found a great non-rusty aluminum 'thing' for soy wax batik. This place had everything from rusty screws and things that were too disintegrated to fathom their original purpose to street signs and doctor's forceps. Don't think I would use the old forceps for doctoring but they would be great for assemblage work and other arty things. I was positively drooling over this antique cash register! It wasn't for sale but I must say I got a great pile of rusty stuff for $20.

unfortunately this 'found' rusty fabic was too fragile to use but isn't it beautiful?

We made one last stop at the quilt shop in Pueblo and headed home...Oh, almost was about 64degrees in Pueblo that day! We soaked up the sun and that helped get us through this last especially frigid week! I am so happy that I made time for this field trip with friends. We all agreed that we 'need' to put more of this into our lives.

Stay tuned for an announcement of two free on-line book studies!! I know a few of you have been waiting patiently for us to....ummmm...get organized! Ruth Chandler and I plan to start Fabric Embellishing on Feb 21st and I will begin Threads the week after that. Details very soon! Thanks for waiting while we get our ducks in a row.
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Who says you're an artist?

I had a great weekend…started with my Visual Journaling class on Sat morning where I had them take a baby step toward drawing and they were brave! Then I took my students on a field trip to Denver…well technically, one of my students drove so I guess she took us. We went to hear a talk given by Laurie M Hawley of Aha Life Designs. Laurie’s topic was the Road to Authenticity – Embracing Imperfection and Feeling Worthy. The talk was inspired by Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.I am a big fan of Brene Brown. She has a couple of talks available on TED that are really great. Laurie shared her experiences on her journey to discovering joy in her life as well as facing the painful parts of embracing imperfection.

A lot of what Laurie talked about really resonated with me…my own journey...especially  being a perfectionist as it is something that I have and still do struggle with. Perfectionists continually seek external validation. Laurie talked about her creativity and life coaching business and how she strives to be the best coach she can be and to that end is continually participating in further training. Which is great for her clients but when is enough, enough? When do ‘they’ see fit declare that you an expert…or in my case, an artist?

I wanted to be an interior designer when I was young but that wasn’t ‘practical’ so I got my degree in business management. Years later when I decided that I really wanted to be an artist my first roadblock was how to go to art school? I didn’t have the time or money to go to art school and everybody said you really had to have an MFA to be an artist. I longingly perused the UK’s City and Guild’s program…even on-line it was still too expensive. How would I get the certificate that declared, YES, I was an artist?? I decided that formal education would just have to wait until the kids were launched even though that meant I wouldn’t get that validation until I was at least 56 and maybe even 60.

In the mean time I took whatever workshops I could, read every book I could get my hand on, joined art groups and I took baby steps. I changed the name of my sewing room to ‘studio’. That was incredibly difficult! It took me at least 3 years to feel comfortable calling it a ‘studio’. I mean really…how pretentious!! I certainly couldn’t bring myself to utter the words ‘I am an artist’. When friends called me an artist I rolled my eyes and dismissed their comments…after all, I hadn’t earned that degree yet!

A funny thing happened while I was busy raising my family, homeschooling, taking creative technique classes, and making stuff. I became an artist. I still didn’t have the diploma that officially declared it but the more confident I became in my skills and the more I talked to ‘real artists’ it slowly dawned on me that being an artist isn’t like being a lawyer. There isn’t a test to pass, a degree required or any hoops to jump through. Being an artist is a state of mind. The only person, entity or even country that can truly declare someone an artist is one’s self.

Go ahead…declare yourself an artist! Hey, want to make today Declare Yourself an Artist Day? We could start a movement!

The photos in this post are from my very first soy wax batik experiments done last Thursday at my Discovery group. This group explores art techniques...not always related to cloth. If you are in the Colorado Springs area let me know and I will send you the meeting details. We always have fun and I am now in love with soy!
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