Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How to be a Better and Happier Artist

So, I am home for two lovely months and have a good chance to sew and paint and create! I got new eyeglasses yesterday and the Dr. said that the corrections should help me alot. Hooray! The saying above is me and I want to discover new things everyday and to discover through art is such a gift! If you have time to sew or create in any way this summer, here are some things to think about.....
Fabric doesn't always come on the bolt and so often thrift store goods can offer something new and fun to mix with the fabrics we all love to buy from our quilt shops...I buy my fabric from quilt shops where I know it is the best that is out there and will do a good job over the years holding up. I have used my Grandmother's old tablecloths, embroidered pieces and buttons in many of my quilts. If your drawers are full of old stuff that belonged to someone you love and you never use it, think about putting it into a quilt that others would enjoy seeing...especially if it has a good story attached to it.
Think of images you see everyday as jump off places for inspiration-I took this photo in Tahoe once and I think the idea of a moon holding something is pretty great...think of things it could hold...they are infinite
Take a class once in awhile from someone who knows something that perhaps you don't know....I find that it is always fun to take a class from a teacher who has formal art training because perhaps they know something you might want to learn. For example "as a painter one of our main goals is to put "light" into a many quilt teachers tell you to make it a goal to put light into your quilt? They probably will now and make a huge difference
Easy piecing is fun because no two blocks look the same and if you use the hoochy technique you are never bored with what you make because as you are making it you won't know what it is going to look like finished until that last seam and the iron hits it. It is never boring and always fun because DISCOVER is a concept in art that makes us better and better the more we invent and create. INVENTING is important to every artist and it is fun to become our own designers and to create using our inner artists.
Traditional blocks, birds, flowers, houses, cats, cows and anything can be done using the hoochy method for fun and discovery as you work
Using fabrics that are the same color and next to each other create light and interest...if you are using only one fabric for a color, perhaps you want to try buying many of that color and playing
Images of things you see every day (like your dog) can be made fun or whimsical by the fabrics you use. This quilt of my Grandson's dog Betty is a good example-Betty is a black labrador but here Betty is pretty darn fun in polka dots
Every day does add to the other days that you worked and discovered...if you plan on learning something through play, you will discover wonderful NEW things and make more interesting projects too
Above is a simple little doodle piece and collecting cards, wallpapers, clippings can be a jumping off place for you to invent. Don't copy things or you will be a "plagerizer" and NO one including the law of copyrights likes that....don't get me started....
 Above is an alphabet that Mel McFarland who was my co-author is working on-if you know your complmentary colors, you can see she used these as her color pallette
Take everyday things like our wonderful trees, sky, grass, hills etc., to inspire you~
I was in a shop bathroom somewhere and they had this on the wall...I thought it was quite pretty and clever-can you imagine me in a bathroom taking photos?
Try wool-it is super forgiving and super fun-this fish I did was for a class on a cruise-he ended up being encrusted with loads and loads of turquoise and other awesome beads....don't forget to embellish and more and more I em embroidering too
Take life's memories to make cool quilts-this rooster used to hang with my Grandmother -note that he is pieced with all kinds of fun colors and I used the hoochy blocks on the border

Focusing on the negative gets you NOwhere and people want to avoid you too. Instead focus on the good and the happy and make a list (YES do it and don't put it off) of things you are greatful for-start with the obvious and work into things others may not see-like the smell of fresh grass, the color of a rusty something in your yard, the clouds and how they form beautiful shapes, the small of the lady nest door, a certain person's laugh, rain sounds on your skylight or window etc...
Try buying new fabrics that are different and colorful and start piecing them-it is exciting and fun!
Piecing different things a different way is exciting too and you learn with every new shape you create- let your inner artist create fun new things and surprise yourself
Birds can be one of the most fun things to piece and they can all look different and FUN -and ignore anyone who doesn't see the growth of experimenting and having fun-they probably use a pattern everything they sew and that is ok but your artist won't grow if you always do what someone else can grow technically but your art soul won't have a chance to fly
Below, colletions are fun to have-we all love "stuff" or I think we do. Here is a great collection of ritablos from Mexico-lovely art for your wall!
Blocks and words always make for a fun wallhanging and words can be powerful too.This photo is blocks that Stephanie made for her quilt-the book Flower Power can help you begin the flowers and the new Out of the Box with Easy Blocks has the alphabet in it and broken down so you can figure it out.
Good advice from an 8 year old no less!
Find someone to quilt with- quilters and artists make the best friends and they share the love of quilting and the ideas of growing with creativity! Join a guild or start a fun quilt group
Smile while you create too- and your smiles can be shared with others who need to smile!
And don't forget to tell others "I Love You" because it feels good and it makes you feel loved and happy


  1. Wonderful ideas to get the creative ideas flowing and a fun way to enjoy sewing in the summer. I hope you and your family have a wonderful day today.


  2. So true, Mary Lou, all of it. Great post indeed! Happy Independence Day from Norway:)

  3. Lots of wonderful thoughts for the summer! Enjoy your creative time!

  4. Enjoyed your post and seeing all the inspiring pictures and reading all the wonderful quotes. You are a gem!

  5. So much inspiration!
    ... and so many wonderful thoughts!
    Thank you, Mary Lou!!