Friday, August 28, 2015

Critiquing the Critique - Off the Wall Friday

by Sarah Anderson
The moment I hear the word Critique, my mind immediately jumps to the word Criticism.  Is that a girl thing, an artist thing, or is it just human nature?  What it is . . . .its a big, fat lie.    Actually critique is more about analysis rather than criticism.



With that in mind, I've been trying to learn to critique my own work as well as others.  Not only is this a good skill to have in your artist toolbox, but it also is a great way to way to combat those nasty gremlins that keep
popping up in your mind telling you how much your art work sucks!

When I do a final self critique on a project some of the questions I ask are:

  • What is the main idea of the piece and is it being conveyed
  • Did the final design decisions flow with or against the conveyance of that main idea
  • Are the design elements being followed or where rules broken without reason
  • Is any element obviously bothersome and in obviously in discordance with the rest of the piece
  • Is there movement in the piece
  • Is my craftsmanship acceptable and craft methods not distracting to the overall main idea
 What's harder yet, is how do you give a decent critique of the work of others.

Things to remember in giving a critique:
  • Honest feedback doesn't mean bluntness
  • Don't use personal pronouns  - ie. "Your use of so many colors is distracting" rather say "Using a limited palette will solidify the piece"
  •  Offer compliments without the qualifiers - "But" & "However" 
  • Never use the phrase "No Offense" because its always offensive


Remember the goal of a critique is to provide additional information to
the artist for their own edification rather than tearing down what they have already built!

I started a list of words that would help me in critiquing my own work as well as others.  Hope they help!!


So What have you been doing creatively?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Simple Simplicity - Off the Wall Friday

Why does everything have to be a production? 

You ever notice that?

Why can't life be simple?!

Lately, I've been yearning for simplicity.  Simplicity in my work, in my home, in my thoughts!  Even when I start thinking of how to make things more simple, it seems to get complicated!!  sighhhhh!

I've been putting together a plan for my studio time for the next few months and its been a struggle.  The real world keeps pushing in and it seems, I'm going to have to get tough, fast!  I don't want to lose the  creative momentum from Quilting by the Lake.

My studio time is going to have to be the priority.  Its that simple.  And that hard.


 For me the answer is always lists and routine.  Between the two, maybe I'll be able to get my work back on track as well as my fall cleaning done!


Enough of my artist angst. . . .

What have you been up to creatively?! 


Friday, August 14, 2015

Off the Wall Friday

Because I spent my normal studio day  - getting my daughter ready for her senior year, I'm just hosting today.

 Part of the day was spent getting her course schedule locked in - but part of it was a 4 hour senior picture shoot.  It was fun to watch someone else's creative process rather than your own.  Its amazing though how creative minds tend to think alike!!






So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Quilting by the Lake Review - Off the Wall Friday

Chopped Hopper



Well nearly a week later, and I'm still recovering from this year's Quilting by the Lake.  Who knew that a creative vacation could be so exhausting!!!  But I can honestly say that it was the best QBL ever.  Not only was it successful creatively, but on a personal level it was super fun.  I got to meet new friends (my suite mates - Betty and Diane) - explore new campus buildings (they're gorgeous!) AND finally complete my class  project (only took 14 years!)

As much as Quilting by the Lake was the same, there were also some marked differences this year.  The AQS Quilt show was in Syracuse the same week as my class session so that was part of the reason.  This meant that the QBL quilt show was smaller and also there were less vendors.  For me, it wasn't a big deal since the vendors that were present still had anything I needed.

Donna Lamb, Executive Director 
There were also less participants this year.  I, personally, liked that better.  Meals were more intimate and you really got to know the 100 ladies that were there.  My class had 17 people so there was still a nice creative energy around the room.   Also, we used a smaller auditorium for lectures and Show & Tell  which was definitely more cozy.  With the inclusion of a mixmedia class and a modern quilting class, there were also some younger ladies there too!

Other additions included a nightly ahand sewing circle in the dorm lounge in case you just wanted to stitch and chat, a morning coffee/doughnut meet, and milk and cookies social.  I thought these ideas were brilliant because it gave you more opportunities to get to know your fellow students.

Of course,  I didn't do any of those though (grin).  Now its not that I'm anti-social. . . .its just that I was busy working in the classroom.  I loved my class.  I loved the challenge of taking what I thought was a nice strong composition and translating it to fabric.    Judi Blayden has got to be one of the hardest working teachers I know.  She was constantly teaching.  When she wasn't talking to us as a class - she was circulating around the classroom checking on us as individuals - constantly - all week!  She made me tired just thinking about it!!

One thing that I was amazed at - or rather not amazed at  - is the wide range of  opinions  on the QBL experience.  Now this isn't surprising really since the ladies come from all walks of life.  Some loved the dorms - some hated them - some loved the food  - some found nothing to eat all week.  Some loved the pretty large campus - others felt it too big and the week too physically draining.

For me - I thought the food was great this year.  The dining hall's staff was friendly and accommodating.  I loved that we had reserved tables just for QBL and that we were served on regular glass dishware.  I also thought campus accommodations fine too.  My classroom had enough room so that I didn't feel cramped and the lighting was fine.  I felt safe on the campus since there were plenty of people around when I was walking back to the dorms.  I even got to take a couple of early morning death marches walks with my physically fit suite mate, Diane on the pretty  campus walking trail.

So yes, I realize that most people wouldn't consider this ideal vacation - but for me it was nearly perfect!

So What are you up to Creatively?


Thursday, July 30, 2015

On Location at QBL - Off the Wall Friday


The Abstracted Collage
Greetings from Quilting on the Lake!!  Wow!!  Its been a world wind week here in Judi Blaydon's ARTful Quilt class.  I'm so glad I picked Hopper's Chop Suey for inspiration since it lent itself nicely to an abstract collage.   So first we created our collages which we then made line tracings of.  These were blown up into full size master patterns.  From there we are reproducing the abstraction into fabric. Its as easy as that!  Or actually as hard as that!

OMG
The Angst - The Struggle - The Blood - Sweat and TEARS!!!

WEDNESDAY ANGST!!!!
Okay, so I'm being a drama queen (big surprise), but somewhere around Wednesday, it dawn on me that this was not going to be as easy as I thought.  You really needed to look at the inspirational collage to get your values and colors correct.  It was hard!  But as most hard things, well worth the work!!  I'm happy to say by Friday afternoon my quilt top will be done and ready to quilt!

Not only is the class going great, but my classmates are great too!!  I met a reader in class - Susan Griffin who was inspired by one of my favorite Fauva moment artist, Andre Derain.  I love her interpretation  - didn't it come out great?!  She wanted to use the bold colors of Derain in a straight forward direct manner tempering them with the use of a neutral.  I think she was totally successful!

I'll share my finish piece next time but here is  sneak preview!


So what have you been up to creatively??

Friday, July 24, 2015

Quilt Retreat Prepping 101 - Off the Wall Friday

I'm always a little surprised at what I need to pack for my annual trip to Quilting by the Lake.  I mean, I'm only going to be gone for 6 days . . .How much stuff do I need to bring???
The answer...A LOT!  In fact, even though this is my 14th time packing, its still a bit daunting.  Why??   Because not only do you need to pack all your clothes, toiletries, bedding, kitchen & bath essentials, but you want to make sure you bring with you everything you need to create for a 5 day class.

Now I know that the teacher supplies a Supply List, but let's face it, this only includes the unique items for the class.  Most teachers include  some kind of  all inclusive sentence like, "Bring all the tools and equipment you need to create".  Okay then - that narrows it down.  So I thought I would put together a list of things which will make your life easier in class but forgot to pack.

13 Things You Never thought to Pack for Quilt Retreat & Conference


  • Zip-Lock Baggies, quart & gallon size - the perfect thing to bring home scraps, pattern pieces and odds & ends notions 
  • Paper Lunch bag - taped to the edge of the table it comes in really handy
  • A Sketching Pencil set - Most design classes start with some kind of design exercises done on paper - my pencil set with a good erasure, pencil sharpener and varying degree of lead hardness comes in super handy.
  • A Coffee Mug - No, not for coffee - but to hold your scissors, seam ripper, rotary cutter etc on your table.  It will save you a ton of time if you know where those are and not under the mountain of fabric on
    the table
  • A Water bottle - Sewing is thirsty work and its nice to have your favorite water bottle (preferably with a filter) that can be filled at a near by water fountain.
  • Extra Pins - you'd be surprised on how many pins you go through!
  • Nail File & Clippers - Don't you hate when you get a hang nail?!?
  • Post-A- Notes - perfect to help remember design ideas or leave a note for friend in class
  • Advil (pain killers) - After 10 hours of sewing in a room full of 20 women - who doesn't need an advil?
  • Chocolate - perfect for a Pick-Me-Up  - or to help make new friends
  • Business cards - give them out to all your new friends (made by giving them chocolate!)
  • Mini Spray Bottle - Most conferences supply irons with steam functions but not all sewers like to use steam - so this way  - you can have your iron and steam it too! 
  • Painter's Tape - perfect to hang things, but also for labels
hmmmmmmm, now what did I forget???  Any ideas??  What do you like to bring?


So, what have been up to creatively lately?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bonnard & Hopper - Off the Wall Friday

Pierre Bonnard
Every year when I get ready for my week at Quilting by the Lake, there always seem like a million things to do.  This year, my teacher Judi Blayden asked us to prepare pre-class homework.  Not only where we to pick the paintings we wanted to abstract but also to do a little research into the painters.


Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947)


As a French painter and printmaker, he was one of the founders of the Post Impressionist group, Las
Nabis.  His work, which has a dream like quality, often featured domestic scenes featuring his wife and family.  He used vibrant bold colors to not only express the actual scene itself but also the complex imagery he wanted to express.  He is regarded as the greatest  colorists of modern art. 

Since one of my true loves is to play with color, I think that's why I was instantly drawn to Bonnard's work.  In The Dining Room in the Country, he slides masterly from the cool colors of the exterior to the warm colors of the interior, evoking a sentimental  - at home kind of feeling.  The goal of my abstraction is to play with moving cool colors to warm.

Dining Room in the Country

Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967)


 An American painter whose realistic views of  urban scenes shock the viewer into recognition of the
strangeness of familiar surroundings.  His  realistic  scenes of everyday life  mostly conveyed a mood of loneliness, isolation and anonymity.  He continued with his figurative work although the trend during the mid 20th century was abstract.

I have always been drawn to Hopper's work.  There is always a sense of mystery in his painting which makes me want to ask why are these people so lonely?  I love how he uses architectural lines to solidify his scenes.  The goal of my abstraction will be to play with architectural features and to create a sense of mystery.
Chop Suey



Okay homework done! 

So what have been up to Creatively?