Artistic Endeavors – Opinions

Skirting the issue that what IS art is a matter of opinion all by itself, I’ll close my year of artistic endeavors with opinions on art related issues.

First, the question of who owns rights to a quilt has vexed commentators. The saga of art collector Will Arnett and the quilters of Gee’s Bend shows the unequal level of business savvy between those who license quilt images and the quilt makers who were happy to get $200 for a quilt. Some Gee’s Bend quilters filed lawsuits challenging their handshake agreements with Arnett.

As a general matter, copyright is inherited, like any part of one’s estate—an immaterial heirloom. In some countries, like Australia, artists receive royalties on a resale, so if a quilt were purchased for $200 and next sold to a museum for $20,000, the artist would benefit, receiving some percentage of the increase. In the United States, at least for now, there are no resale royalties; copyright can police only the most egregious instances of appropriation, paying scant dividends on use of images of the work. But at least, as Ms. Pettway [one of the quilters] puts it, “it acknowledges the quilter.”

More generally, ownership of a work of art is a slippery concept.
“The first lesson that prospective art buyers have been learning is that artworks aren’t yours to do with whatever you want.”

Then, there’s copyright on a painting (or other work of art.) “When you buy an original painting, you buy the physical object to have and enjoy. In most circumstances, you own only the artwork, not the copyright to it.”

Melanie at Catbird Quilt Studio had a recent post about the whole copyright/cultural appropriation debate.

Joe Cunningham takes on Calvin Klein and a host of condescending attitudes towards quilts and their makers. He begins his rant with,
“Even today, when the walls between High and Low art are beginning to crumble, when the divisions between Art and Craft have less and less meaning, there is such a long way to go before quilt artists can get anywhere in the art world that I am resigned to the concept that I will not live to see the day when a quilt artist can be seen as an artist pure and simple.” He then moves on to a recent Calvin Klein ad campaign that features quilts as floor coverings, and A.P.C., a French company that sells limited edition quilts made in India.

Another choice quote, “Sophisticates justify using old quilts and the graphic ideas they contain using statements that imply that quilts were once made in a long ago, grandmotherly place, and that these sophisticates are now using them in this fun, quirky way to simulate some sort of interest in the past.” I’ll leave the rest of Joe’s spot on comments for your discovery.

I want to end with an opinion on the role of fear in art making. Julie Fei Fan Balzer addressed this topic in an Instagram post. “This quote [Fear tricks us into living a boring life.” – Donald Miller] struck such a chord with me. I get a lot of art related questions that I think are motivated by fear: “What will happen if I do xyz?” “What should I use to do xyz?” “How should I do xyz?” The fact is: I know nothing more than you. In fact, I might know less. I didn’t go to art school. I just tried things. Some of them worked. A lot of them failed. I used up tons of precious art supplies doing stupid things. I still do! I burned time and wasted effort and I’m so glad that I did. All of those failures, all of that waste, all of the mistakes — they all made me fearless in my art making. Experience has taught me that I can paint it over, flip the page, throw it out, learn to live with it, scrape it off, and sometimes even “fix” it. It’s all okay. So if you’re staring at a pile of art or craft supplies, throw away the fear. It’s time to find out what happens if you {insert your own adventure here}.”

She has done a podcast on artistic fear you may want to listen in on. The meat of her discussion begins about 1.5 minutes in. Of course, the book Art and Fear is a great resource on this topic.

I have enjoyed sharing my discoveries with you and hope to feature new ones in 2019 every so often, as the spirit moves me.

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Crunch Time

All my procrastinations are coming due and I am resembling the proverbial headless chicken. I have only myself to blame, of course, as these are self-imposed tasks.

First, a bit of background. I am not a holiday kind of person. While I’m not Scrooge, I do my best to ignore all the craziness of shopping and baking. Instead, I substitute my own kind of craziness which involves completion of various quilting/sewing related tasks.

Some tasks are done. “Flower Power” is quilted and bound.

Flower Power

Flower Power detail

I have sewn hanging sleeves onto seven small quilts so I can now display them. My art quilt group small glitzy scraps piece is done. Actually it’s overdone, which is why I’m calling it “Kitchen Sink Included.” I don’t embroider much, but when I do I leave no surface untouched.

Kitchen Sink Included

I’ve made progress with two reworked quilts, made a top for a baby quilt, and rethought “Deep Purple” a bit, thanks to your comments.

This baby quilt is made of scrap squares with yardage for the edges.

Still awaiting attention is another scrap piece I’m calling “Square Deal.” I want to make it more off-kilter.

I’m thinking of adding more escapees.

And, because I had a box of gauzy, glittery, silky scraps on my sewing table, I started playing around with another glitzy design. Unfortunately, I think it’s going nowhere, but it will be a distraction for a bit.

I’m plugging away at hand work on one of my revised old quilts as I wait for my fabric shipment so I can return to work on “Deep Purple.” I’m also pondering the best way to attach bits of silver lame to another revised quilt.

In a totally unrelated development, Rayna Gillman featured two of my quilts on her blog. She asked readers to send in examples of improv quilts, so I did.

Holiday best wishes to those of you who celebrate Christmas, and happy solstice to everyone.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process

Artistic Endeavors – Advice

There’s no shortage of advice about being an artist. All jesting comments such as “get a day job” aside, I’ve found a few sites helpful as I get up the nerve to call myself an artist.

Jerry Saltz has written a comprehensive article that contains 33 helpful specifics.

Sherry Camhy’s article on becoming an artist focuses on getting your work exhibited. The article addresses art in general, but the advice more than applies to fabric art.

Recent Against The Sky exhibit at Summit ArtSpace, Akron, Ohio

Sue Bleiweiss wrote about five qualities of successful artists.  When I read the following I felt she was inside my head: “One of the most useless black holes in the art making process is to compare yourself or spend time evaluating your work and what you do in relation to someone else.”

One oft repeated advice is to steal learn from the best. And that brings me to art commentary and history. It seems odd to hear people talk about art with no visuals, but that hasn’t stopped several art podcasts from springing into life. Here’s a list to get you started. Production values vary, and some presenters sound as if their day jobs are testing pot infused cookies for the Colorado market.

Speaking of art history, if you want an enhanced Vermeer collection experience, check out Google’s Art Camera.
“Pocket Gallery, a brand new feature on the Google Arts & Culture app, uses augmented reality, so you can pull out your phone and step into a virtual exhibition space to see all 36 [of Vermeer’s paintings, including . . . the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring”] hung life size and perfectly lit. As you step closer, you’ll see each painting in stunning detail and can learn more about each piece.” 

The Lacemaker *oil on canvas *24,5 × 21 cm *signed t.r.: I Meer *1670-1671

While looking at art is delightful, it doesn’t replace the truth of the most basic advice – practice, practice, practice.

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Too Much Purple?

People see red, turn green with envy, are blue, etc., but what emotion is associated with purple? Passion? Overheated prose? Anger? Elegant decadence?

I ended up with a very purple quilt top for a prosaic reason, nothing to do with emotions. The scraps I had, gifted velveteen from a church janitor, and luscious grape fabric I had on hand determined my purple path. I stitched  already pieced scraps from past projects onto old phone book pages. My idea was to do paper piecing light, with far fewer seams sewn through the paper.

The scraps are left from a baby quilt and “Church Windows”

Next, I sewed Marcia Derse’s grape crush solid fabric down around the edges, along with contrasting color handles. It was easier said than done, as sharp angles caused me to misjudge how much fabric to allow.

I also added velveteen edges and tried mixing in different purple fabric. That did not go well.

I abandoned the velveteen edges and tried other corner treatments made of velveteen and silk.

I didn’t like the clunkiness where the corners meet. I also decided to eliminate a row of blocks and add a border. I was bound and determined to use the velveteen. It’s not your eyes; the photo is out of focus.

I’ll spare you all the fiddling I did, but I eventually settled on the following arrangement.

The corners are spread out and work on a border has begun.

I decided to drop the narrow inner border. The color is really a yellow green, which photographs more yellow than it is.

The present state of “Deep Purple.”

Right now it’s quite prickly looking. Maybe I’ll get it quilted this year or maybe I’ll decide to change it and save the quilting for 2019.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

Artistic Endeavors – Enlightenment and Entertainment

Photo Sources

From Gratisgraphy

New York Quilt Project Being Digitized

Influence of Women Artists

Ruth Asawa

Songs and Geography

Song Map of Texas

Free Art Books Published by the Getty 

The Getty Center

Artistic Maps

Susan Stockwell Colonial Dress

Japanese Book of Wave Patterns

If A City Looked Like An Artist



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Cornering My Scraps

As I have noted before, I have a thriving scrap fabric collection. Some are even already sewn together. I like to pet these pre-made quilt beginnings in hopes of inspiration. Some time in October I decided to sew a group of hectically colored scraps together.

I sliced lengths of multi fabric strips in half and inserted narrow strings. I added to and lopped off bits to even up my rounds. Eventually I came up with the following.

Beginning of “Turning The Corner”

I liked the effect but wanted to give more weight to the left side and bottom. So, I added wider lengths of Marcia Derse fabric and more angled strips.

I finally quilted the top at the beginning of November. I used 30 weight variegated cotton thread, and extended some of the strips into the Marcia Derse fabric with quilting lines.

detail

I find the colors cheerful as I catch drifting snowflakes out of the corner of my eye. If I can’t go to the heat, I’ll try to bring the heat to me.

I’m linking this to Off The Wall Friday.




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Artistic Endeavors – Individual Artists

Each week since January I’ve been featuring websites related to art and the art world. I have four more weeks in 2018 and way more possible websites I want to feature. So, I plan to present groups of websites for the remaining posts in this series. Individual artists are up this week. I think there’s something for everyone, even my husband.

Fiona Richardson – landscape embroidery

Ruby Silvious – teabag miniature art

teabag kimono

Isobel Currie – threads 3D art

Rogan Brown – paper sculptures

Chris Perani – photography of butterfly wings, other microphotography

Barbara Takenaga – paintings and installations




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