Monday, 30 May 2016

Quotes: Mary Button Durrell

What do you think is the function of art in society? Do art or artists have a responsibility to do anything in particular?

"The basic answer: to wake people up, to challenge preconceived notions, to provoke, to create beauty, to encourage community, and to inspire imagination and play. Nick Cave’s Soundsuits come to mind – how wonderful it would be to be walking downtown, head down and suddenly look up and see his dancers in the street moving in those fantastic suits!

Artists create holes and openings in the universe. They sidestep the conventional, conditional, predictable and habitual, and they illuminate and connect different worlds. They’re responsible for keeping open, playing and infiltrating culture with newness, the unknown until now, the original.” –– Mary Button Durell, San Francisco sculptor 

*Source: (May 2012) found: January 19, 2016

Monday, 23 May 2016

Quotes: Albert Einstein

"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men." –– Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist

Friday, 20 May 2016

Studio Series: Work in Progress

Hexagons pillow WIP © Karen Thiessen, 2016
In January, I machine quilted three hexagons projects (two table runners and a pillow top) and they are now complete. For this pillow top that I hand-pieced last year, I decided to slowly hand quilt it with DMC floss. In a few weeks I should have another completed pillow. The slow hand quilting is giving me ideas for other work. One of my favourite teachers once told me that I have too many ideas. She was right.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Studio Series: Finished Objects!

Flowering Snowball pillow © Karen Thiessen, 2016
The last few months have been busy with professional writing, bookkeeping, income tax, three classes over six weeks at my indie fabric shop, and my printmaking classes. Class number two was a Flowering Snowball class with Johanna Masko. I'm pleased with the results. I used fabrics that I had dyed and screen printed, along with commercial quilting cottons. Learning how to install a zipper with ease was a highlight.
Red Yellow Blue Hexagons pillow front © Karen Thiessen, 2016
This year I am motivated to finish old projects. I had pieced this red, yellow, and blue pillow top a few years ago. In January I machine quilted it but I was unsure how to add the back. On the day that I completed the Flowering Snowball project, I finished this hexagons pillow.
Red Yellow Blue Hexagons pillow back © Karen Thiessen, 2016
I am especially excited about the back of the hexagons pillow! Note the very sexy zipper. It feels good to finish old projects –– it makes room for new energy in the studio.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Quotes: Olivia Laing

"Another running thread I’ve been thinking about is long-term creativity. How do you keep making art, book after book, decade after decade? What really constitutes success? If you want to survive, you have to ask these questions, and to find answers that are robust and engaging, because if it’s just about critical or market approval you’d go completely crazy. You have to let yourself fail and fuck up, and you have to be able to make bad or messy or otherwise hopeless things on the way to good ones." –– Olivia Laing, UK writer and critic
* Source: via Austin Kleon December 10, 2015

Friday, 13 May 2016

Studio Series: Work In Progress

WIP collage 3'X4' © Karen Thiessen, 2016
This is week two of three weeks of mini-studio retreats. The above 3' X 4' unfinished collage is the largest that I have ever made. I am using papers that I have screen printed as well as found papers. I need to live with it for a while to see where it wants to go. It needs taming, but how I do not yet know.
WIP collage 3'X4' © Karen Thiessen, 2016
Once it is finished, I will hang it on the wall where it is propped. The hall is a busy, narrow space so I collaged on 1/4" plywood and will either hang it with metal mirror clips or I'll screw it to the wall with brass screws.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Studio Series: Dress Work in Progress

Darling Ranges dress WIP © Karen Thiessen, 2016
My mom was my primary sewing teacher. She studied tailoring at night school and I loved poring over her binder of samples. In a four generations family photo of my great Oma, my grandpa, my mom and a four-year old me, mom and I are wearing matching dresses that she sewed. Mom was an excellent teacher but because we were broke, there was no room for mistakes, so she was often tense when we sewed clothes together. I internalized this and carried it forward, so I stopped sewing my own clothes after I left home to attend university. 

My indie fabric shop recently offered a Megan Nielsen's Darling Ranges dress class. Determined to overcome this mental block, I took the class, using old fabric that was not precious. I was mindful of when I tensed up: sewing bust darts and buttonholes. To get around the darts issue, I hand-stitched them before machine-sewing them as I find hand-sewing to be soothing. The button holes are unfinished. The weather is warming up and I need clothes, so I'm either going to overcome my button hole block, or, for ten dollars my local alterationist will do them for me. In my excitement of sewing clothes again, I cut out two more dresses, so I have not one, but three unfinished dress projects on my hands. If I learn how to make my own button holes, I'll save thirty dollars, money that I can spend on more sewing tools (like an ironing ham and a button hole chisel) and fabric. 

On another note, I did take the Megan Nielsen's Virginia leggings class and learned how to sew knits, how to sew with a twin needle, and how to use a serger. They are finished and look great!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Quotes: Robert Rahway Zakanitch

"Beauty is. It is as natural as breathing. Its allure is transforming. I don't think art is about anything else." –– Robert Rahway Zakanitch (b. 1935), American painter and one of the founders of the Pattern and Decoration Movement

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Videos: Sister Corita

This week I'm taking a mini retreat. I'm reading, writing, feeding my sketchbook, and collaging. It's time for some review and reflection. I hope to practice making buttonholes ... and actually finish my dress. I leave you some food for thought from the late Corita Kent.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Quotes: Timothy Goodman

"If you want to change your look, change your tool." –– Timothy Goodman, American graphic designer and author
* source: Design Matters Podcast 2015. Quote is advice given to Timothy Goodman by an unnamed professor of his.

In addition to changing your tool, play with different techniques, and materials too!