I’ve been taking Louise Fletcher’s free Find Your Joy taster class and it’s been SO wonderful. First of all Louise is lovely and humble and very, very talented, but also it’s exactly what I needed to encourage me to try painting again.
My first painting after many, many years…
When I was young I wanted to be a fine artist, but the adults in my life (not just my parents) encouraged me to be more responsible (aka get a REAL job.). So I went into fashion design, hated it, then jewelry design, loved it, but ultimately found it not exactly the right fit for me, then found hand stitching, and finally Improvisational Stitching, which has been so wonderful and freeing. I love improvisational stitching, but I also know this isn’t where everything ends. All of this I will be talking about in much more detail in my upcoming workshop: Finding Your Voice Through Exploration and Creativity. I will be sharing my experience with art, design, and evolution as an artist; how I came to improvisational stitching, the things I continue to do, look for and try. The workshop is all about encouraging and helping people find their unique voice. What motivates, what awes and inspires and how to take those things and incorporate them into your art. The workshop is personal and is the culmination of many things that I’ve done over the course of my life. We’re going to have a wonderful, wonderful time of soul searching in a safe environment, cheered on and encouraged to try things we might not otherwise try and we will talk about that inner critic. The one who is sometimes so loud we have a hard time concentrating. Each day is filled with exercises to help us see what’s blocking us, how to work through and around those blocks (and inner critic) and move towards what we love. There are still spots open! So sign up.
I’m a seeker, a life long learner. I got that from my mother. I love stretching and trying new things. I get bored pretty quickly, so improv stitching has been fantastic as the options are infinite. I can incorporate lots of different things into it.
When I was awarded the Artist’s Residency in France this spring, I had a studio and realized how much I needed that so I could work bigger and add paint to my pieces. My husband early into my 2-week residency said to me, while talking on the phone one evening, “So I guess you’re not going to be able to come back from this…”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Having a studio,” he said.
“Yup. Definitely going to be needing a real studio when I get home.”
So guess what? I was gifted part of a studio for the summer and painting was the first thing I wanted to do. And this is where Louise’s free class comes in. It’s all about painting and I figured I’d get some prompts and encouragement to paint again, and that’s exactly what I got and so much more!
2nd attempt at painting again…
I did six of these and had so much fun!
And then I hit a snag. I had one of those days where the voice in my head told me everything I was doing was awful. So I did what I’ve learned to do over decades of dealing with this voice. I kept going anyway, though I must admit there was little pleasure to be had… and when the voice became too insistent I went back to doing some hand stitching on La Bête, which is soothing and lovely.
Gimp French Knots, Added Wool with Ribbon Roses, Feather Stitch
And the next morning I woke up and went into the studio and began working on the piece that had me down and feeling like this whole painting idea was a bad one. And do you know what happened? I decided I rather liked it after all.
And then I decided that I wanted to try doing something I’d never attempted before. Doing an abstract piece using a photograph as inspiration.
I tested this idea out in my sketch book first.
And then I tried to recreate this on proper paper, but the size is off and I actually like the one in my sketch book best, so that was interesting!
It became too elongated. I like the square shape that I did in my sketch book. I may try this again with a square piece of paper.
I also played with some black paper using only black, white and red paint.
Anyway, the whole experience has been nothing short of amazing and so, so informative and just beyond wonderful. I’m loving my time in the studio where I go from painting to stitching and then back to painting and now can incorporate both in my work, which feels even more amazing. I love that as I learn new things my work changes. I love that just because I enjoy something I don’t have to stick with just that and do nothing else. I love that I continue to explore and grow and the work shows that as well.
It’s hard to believe that this artist’s residency is coming to a close. I have just four more days here before returning to Paris. So I thought I’d do a pictorial recap of my time here so far. It’s been beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for. Just amazing.
Gare de l’est
On the train heading toward Orquevaux!
My Studio! I can’t believe it!!
Some of the art work in the Chateau left by other artists in residence
And so it begins… getting the work up on the wall.
but now I have all of this space… I can go much bigger!
The view from my studio
Taking a morning walk with fellow artist in residence, Kevin Ford
Throwing some paint around
Working and adding
Playing with shapes, getting in the blues…
Lichen always inspires
Taking a walk to clear my head and get some perspective on the challenges I’m seeing in the piece now that I’ve doubled its size.
The sheer beauty and magnitude of this place…
The boat house
The blue alien is now an ever present “issue” that I work hard to resolve…
Deciding that I have to stitch stuff down anyway…
Boldly stitching the blue insect/alien even though I have misgivings… maybe it’ll look better once it’s stitched down.
Nope it doesn’t. Annotating the work, before adding more blue, because if the blue bits are the problem, let’s throw more on there and see what happens.
The blue rabbit hole continues. I’m so deep in it I can’t see my way out.
Still I can appreciate the fabulous art all around me that covers the walls of this amazing place.
Raclette night and the fabulous Beulah van Rensburg: artistic director
The. blue continues to prove problematic.
But I’m determined…
and when all else fails, start another piece…
Fellow artists put on a puppet show for all of us, to great hilarity and fun!
and then I return to my studio to finish my little study inspired by the lichen I’ve seen on my many walks.
And on it goes… the creative process continues.
The big take away from all of this is that the process of creating is often bumpy, but if you don’t give into despair and just meet it head on matter-of-factly, the process is actually very instructive and can be wonderfully fun. It so mirrors life. Some of the things I tell myself: Don’t take it personally. You got this. It’s a momentary hiccup, what can you learn? This feels uncomfortable, but it’s okay. I’ve been here before and gotten through, I’ll get through this too. Breathe. Be patient and honor the process.
The ups and downs, the unexpected road blocks, the work arounds, it’s all there, just as in life, but making the decision to find the joy, to be present, even when I’d rather not be, that’s the trick. Right now I still haven’t resolved some of the issues I have with this piece, but I know I’ll get there eventually. It’s all part of creating and creating is always wonderful! Hard, but wonderful!
The Dorset Button Workshop, which is for those who’ve never made a Dorset Button or do not feel entirely confident with making one yet, is this Saturday! There are still some spots available, so don’t hesitate in signing up as I will not be giving this workshop again. We have a lot of fun and I demonstrate and go over all the different places where you might run out of thread and how to attach a new thread, how to wrap the ring, how to center those spokes, how to make the center and then we veer off and add some other things and stitches to the traditional Dorset Button. By the end of the workshop everyone will have made at least a couple of them.
For those of you who’ve been following along with my husband and I, we are leaving for Las Vegas today and will be flying home tomorrow just in time for my Dorset Button Workshop. Don’t forget to sign up!! I will be sending out the link later and for those who sign up in the next 48 hours, I’ll send out the link no later than Saturday morning.
Traveling is an encapsulated version of life. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people that greeted each day with their arms wide open. Someone once said or maybe I read it somewhere, I can no longer remember – if you want to be a _____________ person, then act like that person. In order to be the kind of person who greets each day with open arms, then act like a person who does that. Which means a healthy dose of gratitude, being present, seeing the upside to each moment, having compassion and the ability to see the humor in almost any situation. And then making the decision that whatever is going on, is best faced with open arms. It’s a kind of practice really and, for me anyway, requires a degree of vigilance as well. Also laughter. Did I mention the laughter part?
This has been an amazing trip. We did push ourselves, but I wouldn’t have done it any differently. Okay maybe suggested to Richard that he wear socks when we did The Narrows, but honestly who knew to suggest that? Not me, anyway. I didn’t wear any socks and was just fine, so…
In honor of International Women’s Day I am featuring four women in my life, who have influenced me the most. All four of these women are exceptional and I am deeply grateful to each of them.
The first – my grandmother, who, though I did not always have an easy relationship with, I greatly admired her joy for life, her dedication to the environment, her devotion of the arts and her philanthropy.
Second – My mother who once told me, when I asked for her advice regarding parenting, “Tell them they are loved, show them they are loved, and one day they will forgive you.” That statement embodies my mother, her sense of humor mixed with wisdom of a life well lived. My mother models generosity and a love of learning, two things I value to this day. I love her dearly and think of her every day.
Third – my sister, who also happens to be my best friend. She is one of the kindest, strongest and hardest working women I know. I admire her. I respect her. I am forever grateful for her presence in my life. Though we live far from each other, I carry her with me every single day.
And finally, my friend, Sue Spargo, mother, daughter, friend, artist & business woman extraordinaire. Sue’s kindness, generosity and support have meant more to me than I can express. Sue has transformed how people see “embroidery”. With her techniques and artistry she has paved the way for so many. Sue continuously strives to find new ways of approaching an art form. She has encouraged me to push beyond what I thought I was capable of, and her friendship is everything to me.
Welcome to my store!
Please browse and look at our patterns available. We also offer Workshops! ~Ariane