Three Bees

It started with a Call for Art Submissions for an exhibition at Brushwood Center highlighting the stress our pollinators are undergoing.

Call for Art

Keeping the Bees: The Importance of Pollinators

June 16 – August 25, 2019

Over 75% of the flowering plants on earth rely on animals and insects for pollination, including nearly 75% of our food crops. Without these creatures such as hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies, these plants would not be able to produce fruits and seeds, which would be devastating to people and the planet. Join Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in bringing attention to the importance and plight of the pollinator in this group art exhibition. We are accepting work in all visual media and styles that feature or are in some way related to pollinators. See below for online resources for more information on pollinators.

I knew I wanted to participate and submit an artwork about bees. In fact, we had just ordered a pollinator garden set of plants from Prairie Moon Nursery to plant in our backyard. So this issue was important to me.

More information on pollinators from the Brushwood’s website:

Three Bees, Kona cotton fabric, May 2019.

Three Bees, Kona cotton fabric, May 2019.

Here is an outline of my process for creating Three Bees:

Process photos of creating Three Bees.

  1. The first step was to think about the design. I knew I wanted to focus on bees and I wanted to highlight the pollinator plants that we were getting from Prairie Moon. So I mulled over some ideas and then started drawing on graph paper to layout the design.

  2. Next, I went into my fabric stacks and starting pulling fabrics for the project. I knew I wanted a variety of blues for the sky and greens for the prairie highlighted with the flower colors and three bees. I couldn’t decide on the perfect yellow for the bees. I had selected a very bright highlighter yellow but I wasn’t super happy about it. About a week later, I remembered the gold velvet from The Cloth Shop in London. It was perfect. Both the color and the fuzzy texture for the bees.

  3. Next, I started cutting and sewing. I started with the blue sky and cut long strips into the 5 blue fabrics. I added some Kona cotton fabric called Snow for the clouds. Working with the velvet for the bees was tricky because it sheds all over your cutting board and ironing board. Plus you are not supposed to iron it. I admit I did gently iron it at a low temperature. The results were so worth the effort.

  4. I added purples and oranges to represent the plants in our pollinator garden and interspersed them into the blue sky section to imitate the flowers standing above the grasses and plant stems on the prairie. Then, of course, the three bees are hovering over these flower tops all in a line formation.

  5. Next, my last section to sew was the prairie. I cut strips in a multitude of different greens to mimic all the different greens of the flowers and grasses in the prairie. I added in some flowers throughout the grasses as well. Then I sewed the prairie to the sky.

  6. The last step was to stretch the completed piece around the stretched canvas frame. I chose a 16“ x 20” frame to highlight the horizontal nature of the prairie with the three bees traveling along the tops of the flowers.

Now you know what I have been up to in the studio.


Three Bees was accepted into the Keeping the Bees: The Importance of Pollinators

June 16 – August 25, 2019

The opening reception is Sunday, June 16 1 - 3 p.m. at
Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods • 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd. • Riverwoods, IL 60015 • 224.633.2424 •

Close up of Three Bees.

Time to share:

I am an artist groupie and love all news articles that give you a peek into the lives of the artists.

Here are two articles from the New York Times I thought were worth sharing.

One about Frank Stella:

The Surprising Tale of One of Frank Stella’s Black Paintings

One about Joan Miró:

Miró’s Greatness? It Was There From the Start

Simple Creative Habits and Jerry Saltz’s Lessons

I read an interview with Austin Kleon on the website called Extraordinary Routines. He talks about his creative habits, his routine. The interviews on this website are amazing. Here is a list of what Austin Kleon does every day. Write in his diary. Write a blog post. Take a walk. Read a book. I like the simplicity of those habits. He defines this as a successful day if all these things happen.

How would you define your successful day? Hmm.

I have thought about this for a long time. My fascination with daily habits started with the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. A friend just reminded me about this book I read back in 2016. I think it is time to re-read it and see what I have learned in the 3 years since I originally read it. This daily ritual habit is the kind of thing that you work on for the rest of your life. Over the years, I have pared down my essential daily habits and then turned around and added more habits back into the mix. Right now, I’m using a Momentum habit tracker app to keep track of the 10 daily habits I am focussing on now. Honestly, the idea of Austin Kleon’s simple habits for a successful day is looking very appealing right now.

Studio update

Nine Daily sewn squares of 25 Days of Purple Irises

I am working on the completion of the 100 days of four colors first piece, 25 Days of Purple Irises. These pieces are like a visual diary. I remember some of squares very well, what I was feeling, what I was trying to convey with the design and contrasting colors (limited as they may be as all were purple). I remember being excited about certain designs.  Next, I am working with the color blue for 25 days as part 2 of the 100 Day Project.

Time to share

This past weekend, I re-read an article by Jerry Saltz, the art critic for the New York magazine, called How to Be an Artist. I read the article several months ago but wanted to re-read it with the intention of sharing with you. The article is long but well worth your time. There are 33 rules included in this article. You could spend a whole day thinking about just one rule or lesson at a time. I highly recommend you open the link just to see the photography where Jerry Saltz poses like famous artists. Perfectly done. Check out the Frida Kahlo one.

He has some creative exercises in Step Two: How to Actually Begin: An instruction manual for the studio.

I am going to do this one…

Exercise: Build a Life Totem
Using any material on any surface, make or draw or render a four-foot-tall totem pole of your life. From this totem, we should be able to know something about you other than what you look like or how many siblings you have. Include anything you want: words, letters, maps, photos, objects, signs. This should take no longer than a week. After a week, it’s finished. Period. Now show it to someone who does not know you well. Tell them only, “This is a totem pole of my life till now.” That’s all. It doesn’t matter if they like it. Ask them to tell you what it means about your life. No clues. Listen to what they tell you.

He has some great practices to get you thinking about what you like and don’t like. All these are tools for self awareness. Something that is important for all people who want to be more creative. Why do I do what I do?

Probably one of his most important lessons is to give up on envy. So let’s give up the comparison game. This is particularly important in our social media world where people curate just the best of their lives to show others as if hard work was not necessary and art magically appears to a chosen few. 

Lesson 26: Make an Enemy of Envy


Envy looks at others but blinds you.

It will eat you alive as an artist; you live in the service of it, always on the edge of a funk, dwelling on past slights, watching everything, always seeing what other people have, scanning for other artists who are mentioned instead of you. Envy erodes your inner mind, leaves less room for development and, most important, for honest self-criticism. Your imagination is taken up by what others have, rather than what you need to be doing in your own work to get what you want. From this fortress, everything that doesn’t happen to you is blamed on something or someone else. You fancy yourself a modern van Gogh, a passed-over genius the world isn’t ready for. You relinquish agency and responsibility. Your feelings of lack define you, make you sour, bitter, not loving, and mean.

Poor you. Too bad that all those other “bad artists” are getting shows and you’re not. Too bad they’re getting the articles, money, and love! Too bad they have a trust fund, went to better schools, married someone rich, are better looking, have thinner ankles, are more social, have better connections, or use their connections, networking skills, and education. Too bad you’re shy.

A secret: Almost everyone in the art world is almost equally as bashful and skittish about putting themselves out there. I’m unable to attend seated dinners. We all do the best we can. But “poor me” isn’t a way to make your work better, and you’re out of the game if you don’t show up. So grow a pair of whatever and get back to work!

One of the themes from this article is to hang out with other artists and “form a gang”. Quilters, improv quilters in particular, are very supportive on Instagram. One of my online friends is Jen Broemel of @twelveredchairs.

She has started this wonderful Twelve Red Chairs storefront adventure in Indianapolis to host classes and creative get togethers. She needs help to keep this going and has set up a Kickstarter fund raiser. Read more about her Twelve Red Chairs adventure. I donated and you may want to as well. 

Post script: Jerry Saltz is turning this article into a book.

Jerry Saltz’s Instagram is super cool.

One last thing by Jerry Saltz, a video called Picasso’s Guernica, Explained to Passersby in the NYC Subway

Hope you enjoyed these ideas and articles I have shared. Let me know what you think. Send me an email.

Time to Share

I’ve been thinking about why I started the Studio Notes blog two and a half years ago. The main purpose was to work out my ideas about creativity through writing about it. My thinking was I would share these thoughts with others interested in pursuing their own creativity to help people get excited about their own creative pursuits. Reflecting back, every Studio Note article has this goal of sharing creative inspiration to spark an inspiration in others. So while I often share my current projects writing about my design and actual sewing process, I decided to share things that have been inspiring me on a more consistent basis in hopes of helping inspire you readers. 

These words from an article written by one of my favorite authors, Austin Kleon, really stood out to me…

 My books are the by-products of the process of trying to figure out how to be a writer and an artist. When I write, when I publish, when I speak, it is in the spirit of being a fellow student. I am simply sharing the things that I am learning. I not only do not consider myself an expert, being an expert seems unbelievably boring to me. Becoming an expert, to me, seems like a kind of spiritual death. A kind of creative petrification. (As my friend Mike Monteiro recently put it, “the secret to being good at anything is to approach it like a curious idiot, rather than a know-it-all genius.”)

I agree. I want to be a curious idiot. Come join me.

So I will be adding a segment called Time to Share or another creative title that I have not been able to come up with yet.  I will share an article/podcast/image that got me thinking about creativity in order to inspire you to think about your creative pursuits in a new way.

Time to Share: Freakonomics podcast series on How to be Creative

I am starting out with one of my favorite things to do to learn about something. PODCASTS!!! I have been listening to podcasts regularly on my commute to work. It helps me get excited about a rather mundane task of driving. I have limited my podcast playlist to a few favorites. I use the Pocket Casts app to organize them. 

Nine daily squares of purple in 100 Days of 4 Colors

One of my favorite podcasts is Freakonomics. You don’t have to like economics to be interested in this podcast. The topics are interesting and so well researched and a little out of the ordinary in what you would expect to hear about. They recently did a series on How to be Creative. Click the link above to hear the various episodes. I am working my way through all of them. I love everything about this series of podcasts. It gets me thinking. It’s a real winner.

Studio Update

As for the 100 Days of 4 Colors, I am patiently creating a five and a half inch square every day. The first 25 days focus on the color purple. I had a few different titles in mind for the completed 25 day piece when it is all sewn together. My first title idea was Lavender. I love images of fields of lavender where that is all you can see far into the distance. However now I think I’d like to change the title to Irises because they bloom in early June and always remind me of my husband because his birthday is near the bloom time.

As I am every 100 days project, I am reminded that small steps every day can create big things which is a good metaphor for a life well-lived.

See the 100 Day Project in action on my Instagram page. Just Click.

100 Days of 4 Colors

Fabrics for 100 day project 2019

It is that time again. The 100 day project starts April 2. I have decided to participate simply because I want to spend more time creating art. This is the best way I know to build a consistent habit of making art on a regular basis. You do it daily for a long time, like 100 days and it becomes just something you do. As some of you readers may know, I started the 100 day project in 2015 and kept going until December 2017.  I stopped the daily creating because I needed a break. However, the last two years I’ve struggled to get into the studio consistently. I’ve tried adding projects to my to-do list and to my calendar. Some were successful like my Four Seasons project. But I struggled to recreate the wheel and get my motivation going after every project. But right now I think the best thing for me is to participate in the 100 day project again.

My 2019 project is 100 days of 4 colors where I focus on 4 colors overall, one color every 25 days. I will create small squares of fabric art each day and assemble them into 1 large piece for each color. My colors are  green, blue, orange and purple. I’ve already selected six fabrics for each color in lights, mediums and darks.

For the design, I am using the loose term of horizontal trending or vertical trending. The blue represents the Sky and the green represents Grass. These two will be horizontal trending. The orange represents Poppies and the purple represents Lavender. Since they represent flowers, they will have a vertical trend.

As I’ve written about many times, I am always trying to find a perfect balance of some guidelines and a lot of freedom. I’m hoping that I have achieved that balance for this project. The colors and design are set but what I actually create within these parameters is the reason I will walk into the studio every day.

I will post my daily squares on Instagram. You can follow along @kathleenwarrenstudio

If you are interested in participating, here is a Reflection Guide from the 100 Day Project people to help you plan out your project in a realistic way.

There will be a newsletter from the 100 day project organizers as always but this year the organizers will have podcasts and a Facebook page to help build community. I found this Reflection Guide helpful because it encourages you to set your intentions and why you’re doing this. For me, I just want to get into the daily habit of creating again. Simple intention and I am open to the possibilities because I know being part of a creative community such as the 100 day project community is awesome.

I have included images of the 100 day projects over the years.

100 day project for 2015

100 day project for 2016

100 day project for 2017

Pillow Covers Fun

Contours pillow on the left with bias tape. Summer Prairie pieced in blues for they sky and greens for the grasses on the right.

The Art Demo at Brushwood last week was great fun. I set up a table with a donated Singer machine available for hire at Brushwood Art Supply Exchange (BASE) along with all my supplies. Before the art demo, I created an example pillow cover with a pieced pillow top in blues and greens reminiscent of our backyard prairie in summer with a bright blue sky above. I call it Summer Prairie.

First step during the Art Demo, I found bias tape in the BASE collection in colors to go with my green fabric I brought for the pillow top. I drew the basic design in my sketch book and started to sew. I wanted curvy vertical lines in different colors. To do this, I started at the top of the pillow top fabric and free hand curved the bias tape a few inches at at time and just sewed it down unto the pillow cover top. Bias tape by definition is stretchy because it is cut on the diagonal bias of the fabric so it was easy to make curves in any direction. I tried to mix it up with my directions of the curves to make it more interesting. Then I sewed the next strip of bias tape until I was at the edge of the fabric. I used a medium grey thread as a neutral to fade into the actual colors of the bas tape. I call this pillow top Contours.

I had a great time talking to the Open House attendees about creativity and the potential of using your imagination and the BASE supplies to get into the creative flow. We had people of all ages starting at 6 years old. She had already completed a sewing project at home. Impressive. 

My fellow Art Demo artists were fascinating and will offer interesting workshops as well, like Creating With Earthen Elements taught by Anni Schwabe.

I am even more excited about the potential of BASE after this Opening House event.

BASE will be a creative space to hang out and just get into the creative flow. 

BASE Hours: M 9-3pm · Tu 9-7pm · W 9-3pm · Th 9-3 · Sa 9-1pm · Su 1-3pm

Close up of Summer Prairie and Contours pillows and shown in place in our new Burrow couch (Yes, I ordered it online and love it!)

I plan to offer 2 different workshops opportunities for this upcoming Fall of 2019. 

  1. Easy 10-Step Pillow Cover Sewing Project

  2. Create an EcoMemory Artwork: a Tangible Reminder of Your Favorite Place in Nature

I created a document with 10 steps to make a pillow cover. Email me if you want a copy. 

Interested in hearing more about the workshops? Email me to make sure I update you on the upcoming workshops dates and times. 

Another exciting development: I sold the British Sunset artwork to a fellow quilter through Instagram, Jennifer of @jplasha. She saw the artwork in my post and said if I ever wanted to sell it, she was interested. I sent a PayPal link and it was so easy. We both share a love of sunsets. I offered her the opportunity to come up with a custom name for the artwork and created a label, packed it up and shipped it on its way. She did a great job with the big reveal when she received the artwork and shared it on Instagram. Click @jplasha to see. She is a long arm quilter so check out her Instagram to contact her if you need some help quilting one of your projects.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the artwork I show in these Studio Notes, it can be so easy to purchase. Send me an email and I will take it from there.

Art Demo Next Sunday and a New Creative Space

Corner Inserts, 10 “ square, Kona cotton, March 2019

The Chicagoland area is so lucky! We have a new creative space opening at the Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods Forest Preserve in Lake County Illinois. The new creative space is called BASE. This is from their website,  

"Starting in March, 2019, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods will be opening a new materials exchange and creative reuse center called “BASE” – the Brushwood Art Supply Exchange. BASE will be a source of low-cost art materials with special discounts for educators and community partners. From professionals and educators to students, families and the simply craft-curious, we serve all levels of artists. BASE will also serve as a library of tools and resources, and an open workspace for artists of all disciplines and abilities to gather and create.”

The Brushwood Center staff decided they could help people be more creative and keep art supplies out of our landfills. Helping people and the environment. We can clear out our old supplies we no longer are using, (guilt free!) and purchase low cost items we want to use. And, even better, we can use this creative space to play and create art.

If you live around Chicago, click HERE to find out what art supplies they accept as donations.

The BASE Grand Opening is Sunday, March 10, 2019 from 1-3pm and I will be there!

Come see my Art Demo using BASE’s 1970's Singer sewing machine demonstrating how to make a Contour pillow cover, an easy-to-sew pillow cover project I designed with a graphic modern design.

My inspiration for this project is something I found at BASE, bias tape. Bias tape is magical stuff. Curves are a challenge to sew sometimes but not with bias tape. Stop by to learn some design secrets and versatile uses for bias tape. 

Why is BASE so exciting to me?

One of my dreams is to play with acrylics and watercolors and try different media. I don’t have the space or inclination to get all the supplies for this. Now, I can go to BASE on a Saturday morning or Tuesday evening to play on a regular basis. A lovely space and a set time to create, even better than a spa day.

There are many people who will benefit from this type of creative space. Curious creatives who want to try new things, like me and people who know they want to add more creativity into their life. Creative pursuits help balance out the stress of every day life. But sometimes it is hard to know where to start. BASE is the kind of place to start. It can give you the freedom to play with no fear of failure.  

To get people engaged, BASE will have monthly challenges and opportunities to share on Instagram. 

You can meet friends for a night out to create, have office retreats as a way to do an activity together. The possibilities are endless.

If any of my local readers want to meet me at BASE to create together, send me an email. Let’s do it!!

I will share photos of the Opening Day of BASE in my next article.

Here is the address. Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods • 21850 N. Riverwoods Rd. • Riverwoods, IL 60015 • 224.633.2424 •

Pieces, 10 “ square, Kona cotton, February 2019

In the Studio this week, I created a piece entitled Corner Inserts. I woke up one morning thinking about this design. I started with a square cut diagonally then added an insert fabric. Step two, I added two strips to the square like a half log cabin design and cut diagonally then added another insert fabric. Then repeated. This process was fun enough that I want to try it again. 

Last week, I created Pieces. Loads of color. Loads of different shapes. Improv sewing at its most fun.

In the Studio: Cotswolds Sunset

After two months, I went back into the studio. Holiday travel, work schedules and lack of motivation conspired to extend this hiatus from my studio for more weeks than I would have liked. It seemed normal to not be in the studio. For me, this felt very wrong. 

Cotswolds Sunset, Kona cotton, 10” square, February, 2019.

Even if I was not sitting in front of my sewing machine or cutting mat, I was thinking about the sunset photo I wrote about in the article British Landscapes. The day dreaming revolved around the colors where the shadows in the grass field made the landscape appear dark brown and the sky had about 1,000 shades of lavender, pink and magenta. How do I turn this into fabric art?

I really had no answers when I walked into the studio but knew I had procrastinated enough when I called the cable company and the repair man for our blinds. Time was up. Why DO people procrastinate doing things they really DO want to do? So I got myself into the studio.

First, I got out my fabric bins and looked at the sunset photo for inspiration. I selected 3 pinks, light, dark and medium. The grassy field colors were trickier. This was a fallow field where sheep had grazed. In other words, some dirt and some grass left over from the sheep uneaten. I selected an olive, a dark green and a color called raisin which is like a dark purple. Again, a light, medium and dark color. 

For the design, I wanted a horizon line and a lighter color on top of the line to represent the setting sun. As for the rest, these three colors for the sky and ground need to be interrelated but not horizontal lines. The old trick of sewing wedges of fabric together to make a rectangle appeared out of nowhere in my mind. 

Then I started cutting wedges and sewed them together alternating the colors for above and below the horizon.  Last step, sew the sky to the land.

One of my friends who reads these articles asked me once, “Why don’t you ever tell us how to sew together a project?” Reading the article makes her want to sew something but she doesn’t know how. A long time ago, I decided I would not write tutorials or step by step guides. I wanted to write articles to inspire people to create their own way in their own style. However, if you are looking for a sewing project that is fun to make, this could be it. I love process based projects. So I have outlined the process I used below.

  •  Pick your fabric - at least 3 colors, light, medium and dark colored fabrics for two groups. One group of 3 for the upper section and one group of 3 for the lower section.

  • Cut wedges of fabric- length can be whatever you want. I used 13” for the length and then the wedges vary from 2-4 “ wide. I do not measure but cut intuitively.

  • Sew 2 wedges together- stagger the wedges and sew the smaller side to the wider side so it makes a rectangle.  

  • Sew the pairs of strips together- make your project as big as you want.  

  • Get ready to display the final project-wrap it around a stretched canvas and staple or put in a frame.  

    Let me know if you try this at home.  😄

Upper Left to Right: Fabric bins, Wedges for fields, Sewing wedges together, Sewing groups of wedges together.

Lower section: Sky and land cut to 13” and ready to sew together at the horizon.

Anni Albers Exhibition at the Tate Modern Review

The exhibition poster byline for this Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern says it all.

South of the Border, Anni Albers, woven cotton and wool, 1958. Close up.

An artist who changed weaving. A weaver who changed art.

I appreciate when people can summarize a very large subject matter into a few words.  The exhibition was superb. It was meticulously detailed following the chronology of her life, from the Bauhaus days in Berlin as a student (where she met and married the color theorist Josef Albers who was teaching there), to Black Mountain College in North Carolina after she and her husband Josef Albers left Berlin due to the Nazi threat and the closure of the Bauhaus school, to moving to New Haven as her husband taught at Yale art school, to print making as the loom became too physically demanding. The Tate Modern had glorious examples of each time period of her life.

I had heard about Anni Abers through reading quilt blogs over the years. For obvious reasons, many quilters have gravitated to Anni Albers’s work because of the similarities of materials and her busting out of the weaving traditions, just like the modern quilters have over the past few decades. Her work is geometric and colorful. Everything quilters love. She started thinking of weaving as an art form to put on the wall. Quilters went through this same process. Annie was an innovator who has helped bring weaving into the art world. She was the first weaver to have an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1949. How did she get into weaving? The Bauhaus (male) staff steered the women students into weaving as they thought that more appropriate (!@&!#). Luckily for us, Annie thrived in the so-called “Women’s Workshop.” Once they got to Black Mountain College, Anni started teaching weaving. Some of the wives of the professors, like Anni Albers, taught classes but were never paid as staff. Anni Albers, like Josef Albers have influenced generations of future artists.

Top row: Study for DO I, DO V, and DO II, Anni Albers, Gouache on photo paper, 1973.

Bottom row: Left- Sunny, Anni Albers, cotton and linen, 1965

Bottom row: Right- Intersecting, Anni Albers, cotton and rayon, 1962.

She was an original thinker and innovator. She played with new ways to weave using the thread as sinuous lines, knots as part of the design, using different types of materials for different effects like silk for a sheen. She envisioned using textiles as divider walls, sound protection in auditoriums. She was a thinker who often thought outside of the box. I find that inspiring.

The Tate Modern has an exhibition guide with all the written material from the exhibit walls. If you like Anni Abers, this is a must.  Anni Albers Exhibition guide

The Tate Modern has Seven Life Hacks from Anni Albers. You should click that link and read it. Here is a quote from the life hacks to entice you to read it.

Well you all know how great art can affect you, you breathe differently.

Anni Albers, 1982

If you still want more, you can purchase the Anni Albers exhibition catalog which has all the images of her art from the exhibition.

Why am I adding all these links? I only touched on a few highlights of the exhibition in this article. If you are at all interested in this fascinating artist, I want you to be able to find this info. There has not been a lot of info available about Anni Albers in the past. I know because I have googled about her in the past. This is a treasure trove of insights into Anni Albers and also just how to be an original artist.


Upper row: Left- Drawing for a knot, Anni Albers, Goache on paper, 1948. Right- South of the Border, Anni Albers, woven cotton and wool, 1958.

Bottom row: Left- Red and Blue Layers, Anni Albers, cotton, 1954. Right- Black, White Yellow, designed by Anni Albers in 1926, rewoven in 1960s by Gunta Stolzl under direction of Albers since original destroyed in WW2, cotton and silk.

What inspires me?

Her use of color and texture.

Her original thinking.

Her geometric designs.

I have included some of my favorite images of the exhibit in photo collages. If you click the image, you can see a larger view. I particularly love the colors and design of South of the Border. I included a closeup to show how she bundled some of the strings together. As someone who gravitates to horizontally trending abstract landscapes, I have been thinking of how to use this piece as inspiration for my own fabric art sewing cotton fabric together. This will be fun noodling around the studio on this project.

My goal is to make you curious to learn more about Anni Albers and you have many places and links above to start your curiosity meanderings. Have fun.

British Landscapes

Pink sunset in the Cotswolds, 2018.

Abstract landscapes always inspire me. I selected two of my favorites from the British country side in the Cotswolds area northwest of London.

Both of these images were taken on my iPhone and I did not use any filters. This is what I saw. The top image makes me like pink. Normally, it is not a favorite color of mine. However, this electric pink moving towards a lavender as your eye moves up the image is spectacular. Now, how can I find a fabric that color? I guess I have a challenge set out for me. Since we were out at dusk, the grass is a very dark evergreen. The contrast between the bright pink/lavender and the dark evergreen and the trees in silhouette gives me a lot to work with for both color and design inspiration.

The next image fascinated me because of the different shapes of the trees. First, the trees behind me are in shadow on the grass in the foreground with the branches flinging out in such organic shapes. Contrast that with the very tidy little tree shapes along the horizon line with their mounded shape. I guess it is all about the scale. Up close the tree branches are going all different directions. But from afar they look all tidy like gum drops on the hill.

This exercise is how I keep my “design mind” happy. I look at an image and design it out of fabric in my imagination. Some pieces I will actually create with fabric. Some I am just playing with. Both of these images are intriguing enough, they may appear in fabric form soon.

Next time, I will continue the Museum Meandering Part 2.

Trees and shadows in the Cotswolds, 2018.

Trees and shadows in the Cotswolds, 2018.

Museum Meanderings Part 1

Aicular crystals in talc-schist from Tyrol, Austria: Australian Opals: Ladies slipper shaped pyrite from England: World’s largest topaz from Brazil. All from the Natural History Museum in London.

We spent a lot of our time in London walking around museums. In particular, I was looking for interesting color combinations and some new inspiration for designs for my art. I found something to inspire me at each museum. The Natural History Museum had a spectacular wildlife and nature photography contest exhibit. They used a lightbox technology for the display of the top photos where light comes from behind the photograph displayed in the dark room and everything is very dramatic.  Most of the photographs that I really liked included a lot of negative space around the main focal point. For example, a close up of a duck swimming in the water where the water is white reflecting the fog and it looks like a line drawing of a duck on white paper. One artist used drone technology to photograph seals lounging on a small iceberg with dark water surrounding the iceberg. It was very geometric and graphic with simple colors of blue, black and white.  Right now, I’m in the “less is more” phase. I love that inspiration can come from a totally different media. Click to see a print of my favorite one, The Midnight Passage.

The other highlight of the  Natural History Museum is the ROCKS. The opals were magnificent and I will remember all those colors for future work. For design inspiration, I saw some of the rocks with long curved crystals immersed in a grey rock. Somehow I want to incorporate this into a future artwork, as well. In included other favorites in the photos in this article.

Next up is the British Museum.  The curators have created such wonderful displays. I love how they displayed the African pottery. They had a large exhibit on African cloth, both old and new cloth. Another interesting thing about the British museum is they had contemporary art next to historical artifacts in the same exhibit from the same places. I was fascinated with this modern piece of art based on Ghanian kente cloth but made out of wood by artist El Anatsui.

Kente Rhapsody by Ghanian artist El Anatsui. Full artwork upper right plus closeup on the left. African pottery on the lower right. All from the British Museum in London.

Great design and great use of colors. Here is how the museum described his work called Kente Rhapsody,

“Ghanian artist El Anatsui highlights not only this reverence but also the damage inflicted on tradition by mass consumerism. The chain saw, which scars the wood from which it is created, symbolizes this erosion.”

The other inspiration was for the color combo of garnet and gold form the Sutton Hoo excavation. Gorgeous.  I also loved the medieval helmet they dig up within this burial chamber. I have included photos of the pieced together original helmet and an artist rendition of what it would have looked like. The text around the exhibit said the poem Beowulf was shown to be more true than just just an allegory based on this archeological find.

Sutton Hoo ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon grave dated early 600 AD. Purse lid of gold and cloisonne garnets and shiny reconstruction next to original helmet found on the site.

The masterpieces of our human history shown in these museums from all over the globe is inspiring in itself. The colors of the rock specimens or the design of the ancient Greek friezes from temples in Athens are all inspiring. It comes down to color and design. The fun part of thinking creatively is to take two totally different ideas and combine them to inspire something totally different. Museums are a great place to let your mind wander and think up new combinations that have meaning for you in your art. 

So why am I sharing this with you? Hopefully you find this museum meandering interesting. But most importantly, I hope it inspires you to look at museums differently, as a way to get inspired to create your own art in your own way.

This year I want to spend more time in the studio. To help free up more time to do this, I will be writing my Studio Notes every other week. So look for my next post January 23. And get ready because the next Studio Notes post is all about the Annie Albers exhibit at the Tate Modern Museum. She was a weaver and associated with the Bauhaus movement. Loads of inspiration and hundreds of photos later, I’m still being inspired by her.