Part I: About Me
I was born in California but moved during my elementary years to Maryland so my father could work for a Congressman. I have two brothers—one older (by just a little) and one younger (by a lot). Once married, I moved back to California, where I stayed until 20 years ago, when I ended up moving once again to the DC area to finish off my career.
My marriage lasted just under 20 years and resulted in 2 children—a daughter and a son. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, but my talent and skill for writing and editing earned me a retirement from the Federal Government 10 years ago. Once I retired, I moved back to the west coast to be closer to family—to Central Oregon, where my daughter had been living for several years.
Part II: My Process
I tend to think of the way I work along the lines of haphazard, intuitive, or often driven by serendipity. I am frequently motivated and/or inspired by color and line, with ideas seemingly just “popping” in my head. Well, that seems to be how many of my creations begin, although I suspect the ideas are often lying dormant until something gels. One idea and/or quilt can frequently blend or move to the next—so bits and pieces of ideas tend also to flow one by one to the next. I often take “rejected” scraps and/or ideas from one project and incorporate in another project. For example, I decided to use a bunch of leftover pieces from several classes in a current project. It’s interesting how many of the pieces seem to blend well together—despite a clear use of what seemed at the time totally different fabrics. I also like to experiment with some idea or form of construction in one project and then incorporate that style in the next.
Something I have been doing a lot over the last several years is incorporating traditional motifs or designs such as geometric shapes (half and quarter square triangles as well as log cabin) into my work. I like how those structured pieces contrast with my randomly constructed (or improvisational) pieces. I’ve also found that creating log cabin blocks when starting a piece is a good way to get the piece going and test what colors I like together. I will sometimes cut the log cabin pieces in half and reassemble with another cut-up log cabin—adding variety.
How I work
I’ve been asked before about the cognitive process of my work and truthfully, but I try not to think about the “how” and focus on the results—which is to say I haven’t a clue how things go together—it just happens. I took a psychological profile test once (16pf) where one of its measures looked at creativity. The psychologist (who was conducting surveys for her dissertation) conducting the test told me she redid my score for that area several times because based on other criteria, my score was too high (11 out of 10)—it did not really surprise me, because I’ve always felt a creative pull for modifying, improving, or problem solving.
I don’t want to try and analyze it too deeply because I’m afraid the “magic” will disappear, and I’ll lose that sense of spontaneity. It’s totally intuitive and often experimental. I think subliminally I must be asking myself “what if” and then respond either on a design wall with fabric or when I’m designing something on the computer. With my digital work, I know that I like to take what feels to me to be disparate images, overlay two or three, then go about seeing if some artistic effect, blending mode, or change of color “strikes my fancy.” I feel it is totally visual and intuitive and how my brain responds to an effect, blend, or color “works.”
So, I can express “how” but not “why.” I’ve wondered myself how my brain knows to move this or that piece to a new location or place certain colors together. However, I don’t question it and simply try to go with it.
Part III: Content (passion)
It seems to me that my most underlying passion revolves around simply “creating.” I feel most fulfilled when I am working on a quilt project or thinking about colors or reviewing my photos for potential images to modify. I basically just love the design process of contemplating, collecting, and then the actual creating. And the best part of creating improvisational pieces is figuring out the “how” of piecing and how pieces to together. There seems to me a clear correlation to designing an art quilt and the edit process, in that it seems like solving a puzzle—figuring out what best fits in specific places.
I think those characteristics can be applied to a broad range of creative activities—even activities such as researching, writing, and quilting. The process seems the same—gather items to work with, begin experimenting with possible approaches, and then apply the thoughts or visions to notes, paper and pen, or a design wall/computer. I am drawn to graffiti-type work, but creating it is a challenge for me. I always preferred appliqué to piecing because with appliqué there seems to be more flexibility and it is less tight and structured. I used to do a lot of appliqué and hand work, but not so much as I’ve aged and seem to have moved into creating with fluidity—or that’s the goal at least.
I’m always less excited about the finished product, other than the fact that it generally allows me to move onto another project. Some quilts are more satisfying than others—and I often recall the steps I went through to get the end result. Although the quilting and stitching itself adds a finishing touch, sometimes it feels to simply be a necessity—the thing that actually makes it a quilt. I most appreciate the stitching, I think, but not because of the intricacies of the stitching design but because I actually prefer random and unpredictable stitches—something I try to project with piecing.