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!
Terror. That’s a word they never mentioned in art school.
Color theory, art history, figurative drawing, these were all pre-requisites; considered the very foundation of any good education in the arts.
Terror? Fear? Not so much. Neither of those words or any words like that, were ever uttered.
And yet… who doesn’t feel fear and even terror, at some point, when creating?
As children, we run headlong, without thinking, without concern, without fear, and we create. Using mud and sand and sticks and our fingers. We don’t pause and reconsider. We don’t think – but maybe this isn’t a good idea. Yet somewhere along the way we learn to be fearful. We learn that being creative opens us up to criticism, anger, even rage and perhaps violence. Suddenly what came naturally to all of us, no longer feels natural. We tell ourselves that we aren’t “creative types”. And yet, I would argue that we are born creative.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
Creating doesn’t have to be on paper, it can be an idea, a vision, a way of thinking. Each of us has a unique mind, shaped by our experiences, our interactions, what we love, our passions, where we were born, the families we were born into, the land upon which we were raised.
So where does this terror come from?
Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear, fear, fear. We are taught to be “sensible”. We are taught to not “dream too big”. We are taught to not “waste time”. We are taught that to create is a luxury. But what if what we were taught is wrong?
Moving through fear, even terror is one of the most exhilarating, transcendent things I’ve ever experienced. It is what connects me to other human beings. It is what connects me to my creativity. It bonds, unites, and can bring me to my knees. It’s what causes me to rediscover the unadulterated beauty and joy of my innocence, that exquisite time before I learned to feel fear.
If any of this resonates with you, consider enrolling in my new workshop: Finding Your Voice where we will use various prompts, words, exercises and even stitching to break though our fears and find ourselves in our work.
I cannot begin to describe how incredibly grateful and fortunate I am to be able to do this 2-week residency in this Chateau in Orquevaux. It is beyond anything I could have imagined. I have a studio, a real studio where I can splash paint around and create pieces that are much, much bigger than anything I could have dared imagine back in my workspace in New York City. It is like being in a dream. Seriously. And here’s the thing, I’m practically in tears because I’m just overwhelmed at how lucky I am to be able to do this, to have this opportunity, to have this kind of space, to be able to create without distractions, to be able to make a mess… it really is a dream come true.
My studio for the next 2 weeks.
This is the piece I brought with me and have begun working on…
Have you been thinking about doing some Improvisational Stitching, but feel it’s a bit daunting? Do you also LOVE Dorset Buttons and wonder how dorset buttons like the ones pictured below get made or if you know how to make one like this, do you wonder what you’ll do with it?
Well, in my upcoming Stitch Along, I’m combining these two ideas! We will be thinking out of the box, applying elements of my improvisational stitching style with dorset buttons that are beyond wild. So if you like this idea, sign up because there are still some spaces left. AND I have thread and fabric kits made up, that you can purchase as well.
In other news… here are my new business cards and notecards just in time for my upcoming trip to France!
My new business cards and notecards!
I was awarded a 2-week artist’s residency at the Chateau d’Orquevaux, which is about 3 hours east of Paris and about 3 hours west of Basel, Switzerland. I have a vague memory of driving through Verdun heading south with my parents when I was in my early twenties, so I’m guessing I’ve been in this part of the world before, but that was a long time ago! I’m very, very excited and will be taking my new piece that I’ve just begun working on and that I talked about in this video (which I made for my Patrons and is unlisted, but you can see it here!)
And here it is after I annotated and moved things around, sewed the left side piece down and took away the upper left bit, as it seemed unnecessary, at least for now. This piece is BIG! At least big for me. It’s about 40″ x 52″.
I’m seizing this moment to explain the website and it’s checkout process since a few people have had trouble. I’ve broken this down into steps and highlighted things that need to be paid attention to.
So let’s go over to the website, shall we?!
First when you arrive you will be greeted by me! There I am, cheerfully welcoming you into my world of design, art, and hand stitching.
Do you see those two big red arrows? That’s showing you the navigation bar because I’m going to go over all of the items listed, but first let’s just look for a second at the bottom of this landing page, the page with me smiling at you. If you scroll down you’ll see a whole bunch of images and text about my past design work and then at the very bottom you’ll see this:
This is how you can get in touch with me.
Now you can also use the “contact” at the top in the navigation bar.
Either one will work. So if you get into trouble, just know we’re here to help answer any and all questions you may have. And most of you, who follow me elsewhere, know I’m pretty good about responding to you in a timely manner.
Okay. Now, let’s move on to “Workshops”.
Yay, workshops!! So much fun. This is what you’ll see. At some point I’ll change the large header image with my most recent piece, but until then this is exactly what you should see. Scroll down and you’ll see the calendar break down of all my workshops as of today. I’ll be adding a few more in the coming weeks, but for now, this is it.
Click on the blue link from the photo above (I’ve circled it in red). All those blue titles are hotlinks and when clicked on, they will open that workshop!
Here we are in the Stitch Along Dorset Button Glasses Case Workshop.
Look at the drop down menu! How cool is that?! That’s what you’ll see if you click on the button to the right of “Customize your experience”. This is where you can add stuff. Fun stuff like fabric kits and thread kits. If you don’t see a drop down menu it’s because no kits are available for that workshop. But for both my Stitch Along workshops you get to add kits!! One more thing about the drop down menu… when you choose one of the options, you’ll see that the price changes.
See how the price changed when you added the Fabric Kit? And can we just admire for a moment those fabulous linens? These include enough linen and lining for TWO cases – Pat Pauly’s hand dyed linens, my own ice dyed linen, a cotton lining AND a micro fiber lining, (you’ll get both) which is perfect for glasses lens, fusible fleece interfacing, again enough for two cases and enough wool for one. Same with the Stitch Along Scissor Case, but I’m getting side tracked…
So the price includes the workshop, plus the Fabric Kit, which also includes shipping and the design and the detailed instruction booklet. “What!” you’re saying to yourself, “that must be a typo!” but no, it’s just one of the perks you get for signing up for this Stitch Along. “But what about the thread kit?” you might ask.
Here you go!
This is the workshop and the thread kit. Please note that if you live outside the US you MUST order at least 4 weeks before the beginning of the workshop. Even so it’s dicey with customs and covid causing delays. Bottom line – if you don’t live in the US, hurry and enroll now!
Here we are with the Workshop, the fabric kit AND the thread kit. See all those beautiful threads above? Oh! And look! See that gorgeous hand dyed linen underneath? Yup that’s the whole package. One last thing – this workshop features Dorset Buttons. Not just your traditional Dorset Button, but really, really wild dorset buttons. Dorset Buttons like you’ve not seen before. Last year I gave a couple workshops called Dorset Buttons Gone Wild. It was a huge hit. This workshop and the other Stitch Along I’m doing in July will teach you how to create dorset buttons that are little pieces of art unto themselves. So even if you don’t want to make a glasses case or scissor case, you can still take this workshop and create dorset buttons for something else you’re working on. It’s all about thinking outside the box, using the dorset button as a jumping off point, but doing things you’ve never thought of doing. That’s what we’ll be doing in both of these Stitch Alongs.
Okay, let’s keep going with the website. So now you’re convinced this is just the coolest Stitch Along/Workshop that you’ve ever seen and you can hardly wait to sign up. So what do you do now?
Click on the “Add to cart” button and you’ll see the little, light blue, transparent box at the top that I’ve helpfully circled in red! And if you look at the navigation bar you’ll see the number 1 in your “cart”, showing you that you’ve added one thing to your shopping cart. And now you can do a couple of things: You can keep shopping and sign up for more workshops and/or designs or you can check out.
There are two ways to check out. The first is to click on the button that I’ve circled in red in the image above.
Or you can click on the the “Go to cart once all items are added?” button, which is right below the “Add to cart” button. Do you see it? ⬆️
Once you click on “view cart” or “Go to cart once all items are added?” you’ll be asked to login, if you haven’t already done so. This is for your security and this is what you’ll see
If you remember your user name and password you’re good to go. If you’ve forgotten your password, like everyone else in the world, you’ll need to click on “login” and you’ll see this image above. Do you see the dreaded “Lost your password?” No problem, we can help you with that. I can’t remember my middle name, much less every password I’ve created for different websites, oh wait, I don’t have a middle name, but you get the point… Click on “Lost your password” and you’ll get an email to reset your password. This is so that no one pretending to be you can get in here and make mischief.
Once you’ve created a new password and logged in, you’ll see this page above… wait, what? Coupon???? I want a coupon! I can help you with that too. If you signed up for my newsletter you will have seen that I give one to everyone who signed up. If you missed that, you can join Patreon where I also gave a different coupon just a few weeks ago! Lots of coupons, lots of different ways to get one.
Once you’ve entered your coupon code or decided you just want to get enrolled because the workshops are filling up fast, you’ll click on “Proceed to checkout” and voila, you’ll be taken to this page.
A couple things here – there’s yet another reminder to use a coupon, if you have one (upper left corner circled in red) and don’t forget to un-click “Ship to a different address?” unless your credit card info is different than your shipping address. For the kits, the shipping address is really important because this is what will be given to me to ship all that beautiful fabric and threads to, so make sure it’s correct. I cannot tell you how many times I go to the post office only to be told “that address doesn’t exist”. So please, please, please, double check and make sure it’s correct. And include you’re phone number so that we can call you to verify, if we run into problems.
Once you’ve filled out all the credit card info, you’ll get an email welcoming you to the workshop and then you’ll get another email from me asking you to choose which kit you’d like. Make sure you have my email address in your contacts so that your email security doesn’t block me, thinking I’m spamming you. I promise, I would never do that. ❤️
Congratulations you are now successfully enrolled in my workshop and the fun has just begun!
But wait! What about the rest of the website?
Okay, okay, here’s the Stitching Shop:
After that is the blog, which is where you’re reading all of this. But have you looked at the right hand side bar? You haven’t!? Well let me show you around because there’s some cool stuff.
So above the red circle there are all the social media icons which you can click on and follow me in various places. And then there’s the Subscribe to this blog! That’s where you enter your email address so that you never miss one of my blog posts.
But there’s more!
When you sign up for my newsletter you’ll get lots of other things stitching related. I wrote my first ever newsletter just a few weeks ago! And I’ll be writing another every month or so. I’m not really sure how often I’ll be writing one, but it won’t be daily or even several times a week, because I don’t have the time, but it will certainly be once a month.
So now that you’ve subscribed to this blog AND you’ve signed up for my newsletter, I want to point out something else: the Translate button.
If English isn’t your first language or second or third, you can have this blog translated to the language you’re most comfortable with. How great is that!
Okay, we’re in the home stretch… Along that top navigation bar after “Blog” and “Contact” (remember I told you about the Contact tab earlier?) then there’s “Account”. And if you hover your mouse over it, another drop down menu like this one will magically appear.
Click on “Account Details” and the image above will appear.
Lost Your Password is the next item on that drop down menu and where you can make a new password.
“Orders” is where you can see all the things you’ve signed up for and purchased and the next item “Downloads” is where you’ll find any and all downloads that came with anything you’ve purchased and finally there’s the “Logout” button.
So that’s it! You are now a pro at finding, ordering and navigating all the different things on my website!