Sunday, February 21, 2016

Filling Sketchbooks

I had a rather amazing discovery this morning.  I went to my office closet to find a new sketchbook, and I kept pulling out ones that were full.

That made me pull out all of the sketchbooks on the shelf, to see which were empty and which were full.  I found 9 full sketch books, and several others that were partially filled as well.

I had no idea that I'd filled so many sketchbooks.In fact, I was downright astonished.

Just this morning, I was watching a video from Michael Nobbs, an artist who has a delightful blog called Sustainably Creative and a wonderful daily podcast called One Thing Today. In the video, he was talking about how by doing one tiny thing each day, taking one little step forward, one can accomplish big things.

So it seemed like a cosmic affirmation that I made this discovery this morning.  Since February 1, I've been taking an online drawing class from Roz Stendahl (more about that in another post) that requires me to draw for at least 30 minutes each day.  One of the goals is to create the daily drawing habit.  I've participated in daily drawing challenges periodically - - Every Day in May is a fun one, for example.  But I've not made myself draw every day.  My creative practice is about trying to do something creative every day, but I give myself the leeway to venture off into other creative pursuits, too.  So I make books, and I make quilts, and I knit. Sometimes I dye fabric or play with other media to experiment. It's all part of the creative practice that has been an important part of my life.

But drawing still feels like a "new" thing to me.  So it was with genuine surprise that I saw the pile of full sketchbooks.  The first drawing in the earliest is dated October 9, 2011.  It's been a little over four years.  And I can really see that I've come a long way.

My current class is on drawing live subjects in public.  I've been intimidated about drawing live creatures (including people) because, well, they insist on moving.  It's no accident that virtually all of my sketches are of objects or buildings or scenes mysteriously devoid of living things!

But this class, and working on it daily, are pushing me and showing me that I can actually do this and get better. Yesterday, I was at a friend's property to sketch some of her many animals.  I had a grand old time sitting and watching and sketching the bunnies.  Even while they're sitting still, their noses are twitching constantly.  I never realized.

After I'd warmed up a bit, I got braver and went to watch the teeny button quails for a bit.  Talk about constant movement!  I found that if I practiced the skills I've been learning in this course -- watching, paying attention to which positions the animal returns to over and over, looking closely at shapes and angles and features, I could get a decent sketch even while the thing kept darting about.

I'm very encouraged, I must say.  And I think I'd better stock up on a few more blank sketchbooks.  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Selvedge Star

Hi, friends!  And happy February to you!

What's this, you ask?  A new quilt?  Yes!  Some years ago (I don't even want to try to count), I started saving selvedges.  When I'd buy fabric, or I'd pull fabric out of my stash to use in something, I'd tear off the white printed selvedge and toss it into a tote bag that hung on the back of the door to my studio.  Before I knew it, I had a very full bag.

And one day, in the mood to sew something mindless and soothing, I pulled out some muslin, cut it into 14-inch squares, and started sewing down the selvedges to create selvedge fabric.  I didn't know why, but it just seemed like something I could work into a project.  I found that sewing selvedges down, one after another, was remarkably fun. 

I'd bring my selvedge bag along on sewing get-togethers and retreats, and spend some time sewing more selvedge fabric.  Over the course of maybe 18 months, I'd sew selvedge fabric in odd moments.  I was accumulating a satisfying stack of selvedge squares.

And what to do?  I started without a plan, and made the basic Sawtooth Star you see in the center.  I was delighted.  And for a while I figured I'd make a bunch of those and have a star quilt.  I poked around to get selvedge quilt ideas.  I started a Pinterest Board of selvedge ideas.  But somewhere along the way, I decided that doing different things would be more fun, which led to a bunch of sketching and even setting up some medallion layouts with Electric Quilt.  So I had a plan.  And a stack of selvedge fabric.  And a whole lot of red scraps.

You see what resulted, finally.  This past week, I was off at a quilt retreat, and putting this all together was my #1 project.  It was the first time I'd laid out everything on a design wall, so it was exciting to see it go from a design on paper to the real design in fabric.  I so enjoyed putting it together.  It makes me happy -- all that red! All those words and selvedges to look at!

As luck would have it, the challenge theme for the next retreat is Words/Text/Fonts. I think I'm all set!  Now to get it sandwiched and quilted... and to decide what to do about the remaining selvedges I have in that tote bag...