Early Morning Dew and Dappled Sun - Autumn

I have been enjoying the beautiful fall color - it comes late here in Alabama compared to the northeast, but within the past few days, so many leaves had already fallen that I began to sense winter easing in.   To try to hold on to it a little longer I decided to do an autumn pastel painting.  I selected a reference photo taken around Thanksgiving a couple of years ago in New York.  

Working on Sennelier Pastel Card with soft pastels, I lay in the underpainting.  At this point I always think of Wolf Kahn's work and wonder if I should leave off here:

I began to lay in color, it seemed too harsh:

I moved it toward a softness.  It is dark now so I will stop and continue tomorrow - a consequence of the shortening of daylight of the seasonal cycle. I don't like painting in pastel at night because for me pastel is all about subtlety of color and I just can't see it as well as in artificial light, even with daylight bulbs, as I can in natural light.  It may be good to sleep on it begin with fresh eyes and perspective in the morning:

When I stepped away from it I felt better about it and am now excited to see it tomorrow in natural light:

 As I painted I connected with the morning I took the reference photo at the Sands Point Preserve in New York.  My husband and I took an early morning walk.  With these memories resurfacing in my mind, the following poem emerged:

early morning dew and dappled sun

earth's magical fairy dust

crisp air meets my breath

I take it all in

hold this moment

autumn at its best

It didn't take much the next morning in natural light, warm sun pouring in through the windows, to move it to a more poetic expression compared to where I left off the evening before:

Prints are available through SaatchiArt.com


Midday Sage Pastel Painting Demo Video

When I painted 'Midday Sage' I recorded the process in two videos. I have now posted them on my youtube channel. Both are silent, reflecting my contemplative process and sense of tranquility. I worked with soft pastel on sanded UArt paper from a reference photo I took in Nevada. Part one is above and part two below.


Nature Brooches wool applique´and embroidery

Continuing with the work of transforming images from my contemplative photography and art making for my dissertation into embroidery, wool applique, and punch needle designs, I created these three sweet brooch pins. 

The little birdy and the orange blossom were inspired by an ink drawing/painting I did after a contemplative nature walk - my usual walk on the Florida State University campus from the parking garage to my department's building.  As I walked across campus I saw sweet little sparrows flitting around in the grass and as I passed the citrus grove I observed that many of the trees had their first blossoms.

little sparrows flitting
orange blossoms hinting
of Spring

political interruption
based on assumption
made hazy my compunction

ink and water
mingled together

restored harmony

As I worked on these brooches, I thought of how creating needlework designs based on my experiences in the doctoral program and through my contemplative artistic practice research was a natural extension of that work.  Handwork and embroidery is a relaxing and peaceful activity that allows the mind to enter a state of contemplation and for my whole being to be at peace.  

These designs are available as digital PDF patterns in my Etsy shop:


Visual Essay Published in International Journal

My visual essay, Understanding Art as Experience Through Painting, was just published in the International Journal of Education Through Art, Volume 15, Number 2, 1 June 2019, pp. 243-248(6).
John Dewey’s ([1934] 2005) Art as Experience, and Maxine Greene’s (2001), Variations on a Blue Guitar, are seminal texts of art education. I experienced my own comprehension of these classics through reading as well as my own art-making process. Working through tension and resistance, and arriving at a synthesis with my own ideas, I gained a depth of understanding at which I could not have arrived without also experiencing and learning through the process of painting. This visual essay provides a glimpse into the act of art-making as an emergent and integral part of the learning process to inform how art education students may reach a fulfilling conclusion to integrating foundational texts with their work as art educators in order to open a world of possibilities for their students.


Up-cycled Travel Sewing Caddy from Brie Boxes

I love brie cheese and have been saving the nice round cardboard boxes it comes in for a while.  I wasn't sure what I would do with them, but I knew they would be perfect for something.  My curious kitten helped me figure out a great use.  He kept trying to play with my pin cushion and thread that I keep nearby while sewing.  I needed some way to keep my kitty safe from my sewing items and my sewing items safe from him.  Also, I used to use a small cloth bag to carry my sewing items while traveling but have recently been dissatisfied with how I seem to lose small items in the bottom and have to empty out all the contents to find what I'm looking for, which is frustrating.  I tested out keeping my sewing stuff in a brie box and it worked.  My needles and thread were out of sight of my kitty, but handy for me in the shallow box, so all items were easily visible.  Now I just needed to make them pretty.  I first painted a few with casein paint ( I didn't paint the inside - it is a nice creamy white).    

I also tried applying fabric with wheat paste, which worked well too.  To do this, cut fabric circles slightly larger than the top and bottom (I suggest not using very thick fabric since the paste will need to saturate the fabric).  Then cut strips to fit exactly on the sides.  Mix up wheat paste (I use Lineco brand - it has instructions on the side - mix a little with water and heat slightly in microwave).  Apply a thin layer of wheat paste to top and bottom boxes, then lay circle of fabric on each and apply another layer till fabric is saturated.  Glue excess fabric over side of box.  Repeat this process for applying the side fabric.  You won't have any excess fabric this time though, so line it up as well as you can.  It doesn't have to be perfect. Let dry.

You can use the boxes just like this or follow the steps below to add an inner pin cushion and a decorative top. 

I created a small round wool applique´ design, then cut out a slightly smaller piece of wool, and a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than that.

Sandwich these together:

And begin whipstitching the sides of the wool rounds together with sewing thread:

When almost done whipstitching the sides, stuff with cotton, wool, or your favorite stuffing.  My kitty has angora like fur that I had been collecting from his daily brushings, so I used some of that since this was only for my own use and it made a nice stuffing (he is pesticide free and organic : ).  

Then I glued the little pin cushion into the center of the brie box bottom (I used Aileen's Fabric Fusion Glue):

I put my pins and needles into the cushion at an angle so I can easily fit the top of the box on:

Now that I had a functioning sewing caddy, I was ready for the finishing touch - a decorative top.  I created a design in wool applique´ on up-cycled denim.  Then I sewed it to a backing fabric - right sides facing.  I cut a slot in the backing fabric, turned inside out and pressed.  Then I applied Aileen's Fabric Fusion Glue to the top, spread it around, then placed my applique´ piece on top.  

For now I haven't applied tops to the box I covered with fabric because I like how they stack together nicely.  If you'd like to give it a try and have any questions, please let me know.


Butterfly Weed

Each morning as I sit and sew lately, I can see the butterfly weed blooming in my garden just outside the window.  Seeing it blooming reminded me of this drawing/painting (see below) I created back in 2017 of my butterfly weed.  I thought it might look nice as a small embroidery/applique´ design, so I set to work.  When considering how to share this one with others, I decided to only offer it as a cloth pattern as one more move toward making my art and designs/patterns more earth friendly.  Visit my Etsy shop for the pattern.  This also is a way for me to making sharing my designs more hands-on and handmade, and more conducive to encouraging collaboration and creativity - I don't offer instructions with this one.  I'd love to see what other stitchers create with this design and what new life it takes on.

Above is the original painting I did of butterfly weed in my garden.  In the image below you can see the design in the process of going from drawing/painting to needlework design.

Butterfly weed goes through a natural cycle each year and feeds the monarch caterpillar, inspiring me to try to keep this design as earth friendly as possible.

I incorporated it into an art quilt using recycled fabrics:


Garden Flowers #3 wool applique´and embroidery

 This is the third garden flowers design based on my contemplative photography created as part of my dissertation research.

Garden Flowers #2 wool applique´and embroidery

This is the second embroidery and wool applique  design I'm working on based on my doctoral dissertation work.  When I release the pattern and kit I will post a link here.  Thanks for reading!

This is the original contemplative photograph from my doctoral dissertation research that I based this design on.

The design in progress

I used a hole puncher to create most of the individual flowers.

I sat in this chair in the mornings to work this design.  Just outside the window is the back porch where a pretty green lizard kept me company just outside the window.  

Here the design is completed.  I still need to sign it.  I'm thinking of making this one into a wall hanging.

The embroidered and appliqued top sat around in my life for a little while, sometimes on the dining table, sometimes at the foot of the bed, sometimes on the studio table.  Each day I would glance at it, loosely contemplate what to do with it, then I would go on to other projects.   One day as I was putting away some fabric from another project I noticed a backing I created a few months ago from recycled fabric.  When I created the backing, I wasn't really sure how I would use it, or what it would become - I started it, then set it aside for a while.  When I noticed it again, I pulled it out and laid it down with the embroidered/appliqued piece over it and knew immediately that the two were meant for each other.  Writing about this now, I am reminded that mine and my husband's 19th wedding anniversary was earlier this week.  This little quilt is a representation of us and how we go together and were meant for each other.  The center inspired by my academic work and nature contemplation practice, with white canvas at the top (I've always been a painter) and the backing is up-cycled fabric from my husband's boxers, in check and a print of a hula dancer, both which visually represent my husband.  How pleasing that this art quilt would serendipitously come together this week! 

Here I have closed off the embroiered/appliqued piece with a backing fabric.

Weeds in My Garden wool applique´and embroidery

Now that I'm done with all of my doctoral coursework with only the dissertation to finish, I'm taking a little break to do some stitching.  I began this wool applique´ and embroidery design based on a contemplative photograph from some of my doctoral dissertation work.  Working on this is satisfying in that it is further bringing my scholarly contemplative art making into my everyday life and into a form that I can share with others.  I plan to release this as well as several other designs as applique´ and embroidery patterns and kits.  

This is the original contemplative photo I created during a meditative walk in my garden which I based this first wool applique and embroidery design after.  

I did a few wool applique´ projects long ago, so I needed to refresh my memory to complete this design.  I have found there is a lot more technical information on wool applique´ out there now which is exciting.  I've been gathering what I find on my Wool Applique´ Pinterest board.  

Some of my first questions to consider were issues of transferring the design, difference between wool felt and felted wool, and touching up on embroidery stitches I had not used in a while.  

For this design I needed to transfer the drawing onto a black wool gaberdine base fabric (recycled from one of my husband's suits).  With an abundance of art supplies in my studio, I went with a method that I also have used with my art.  I rubbed white chalk/pastel on the back of the design.  I gave it a little shake to release loose dust, then I placed this over the base fabric.  With I pencil I drew over the lines of the design to transfer the while chalk to the fabric.  It was a little dusty but I was surprised at how well the fabric held the chalk line.  Then I was ready to start cutting and stitching.  

I pulled out all of my wool fabrics and felts.  Although I had used both, I had never really paid particular attention to the difference between the two.  But now I wondered if there was a difference or not.  I knew they seemed different but wasn't sure exactly why so I did a quick search of the internet.  A google search on the topic yeilds a lot of information.  I found the most helpful explanation offered at oliverrabbit.com:   http://oliverrabbit.com/journal/2016/1/11/what-is-the-difference-between-wool-felt-and-felted-wool.  The basics:  wool felt is created with heat/agitation to bind the fibers together and felted wool is woven wool fabric that is washed and dried - this felts it and puffs it up a little.  While reading this I remembered how some wool felt kind of sheds little fibers when you cut it.  I was pretty sure I wanted to use felted wool for my current project.  I had on hand some white woven wool coating weight, which I was and dried to felt, and just a week ago I was at Cross Stitch Station in Waynesboro, Virginia where I picked up a nice fat quarter of Weeks Dye works over dyed black wool.  I ended up only using the white wool.  

Threads Stitches
Upon beginning this project, I felt pretty sure that blanket stitch, which seems to be one of the most common stitches used in wool applique´, would work for this delicate design.  I tested it out on my design and immediately knew it wasn't the right stitch for this project.  But as I removed the stitches, I realized why it is probably the most popular stitch - it is sturdy and hard to pull out, so it likely lasts a long time even with wear and tear.  I began with my all-time favorite, yet simple stitch - the back stitch.  I used DMC ecru perle cotton size 5 for the stems.  This design has a lot of stems and I wanted some variation in size, so I created the main stems with the aptly named stem stitch.  Another favorite of mine is the French knot, which I used on the smaller flowers.  I used a whip stitch with regular quilting thread to attach the flowers and leaves.  I originally planned to use black wool for the centers of the large flowers, but decided to stitch the centers with black perle cotton size 5.   

I decided to make this finished design into a new purse for myself using felted wool from an old sweater.  Now I get to enjoy the fruit of my labor that began with my doctoral work in my everyday life - a pleasing conclusion.

Garden Friends Wool Applique´Quilt Blocks

I designed these quilt blocks for those new to embroidery and wool applique.  They offer a fun way to learn the basics.  Individually they would make sweet little pillows to make and give as gifts.  Pieced together they would make a nice wall hanging if blocked in a square, or a table runner if pieced horizontally/vertically.

These wool applique quilt blocks are available in my Etsy Shop individually or as a bundle:

Early Morning Dew and Dappled Sun - Autumn

I have been enjoying the beautiful fall color - it comes late here in Alabama compared to the northeast, but within the past few days, ...