Archive for March, 2010


Best $5 I’ve Ever Spent!

March 14, 2010

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to learn from photographer/artist Rick Bennett at the Visual Art Exchange  (VAE) in downtown Raleigh, NC. The event, organized by VAE staff member Meredith Burgess for a nominal fee of $5, allowed artists one hour with Rick to learn about photographing work for submission to calls. Because hiring a photographer is so expensive, this event gave new and emerging artists the skills to take our own images in sufficient quality for entry.

I brought a few pieces with me that pose particular challenges: Liberty Still Endures has a great deal of detail in the skyline, Moon Flowers has black and bright white contrast with shiny beads, and Rabbit Moon doesn’t have as much contrast, but quite a bit of shimmering paint and beading.

While Rick was not expecting to work with fiber art, he didn’t shy away from the opportunity, instructing me on how to get the details. In my case it seemed to boil down to light. His suggestions were to either photograph outside on a cloudy day, or indoors in the garage or unlit room. Additionally, indoors I should use two lamps at about 30°, but face them away from the work towards bright white foam boards that will then bounce the soft light back on the piece.

Rabbit Moon

We went outside the gallery and photographed as the sun went in and out of the clouds. The conditions weren’t ideal as just a block over Raleigh was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with its annual parade and green haired leprechauns wove in and out of our operation, but Rick was undaunted. He went into great detail on what camera settings to use and how to influence the degree of light the camera allows. After taking several shots of varying degrees of each quilt, we then uploaded the images on the computer to talk about editing.

I’ve used Photoshop Elements 6 for the past couple of years, so my tools are a little different than his full Photoshop, but I do have the tools to do what I need for image editing. Here’s a couple of points that I had not known (or forgotten) that will benefit me right off.

First off, save your image as a tiff file. And save each change as a separate tiff file. Jpg’s compress the image each time you save it causing you to lose data with each change. Don’t change to jpg until you are ready to submit.

Second, use the light levels to adjust light, mid-tones and darks. You can adjust just one aspect, without having to lighten or darken the entire image.

Third, use the saturation levels to fix an off color. Rick explained that the camera looks at the whole to record what it thinks is the best color. For example, on the black and white piece, the camera combines all the colors to ‘see’ gray. By using the saturation levels, you can fix just the reds, blues, etc. that might be changed by the camera’s blending.

Overall, it was well worth the drive up to Raleigh and I have some great images ready for submission. Rick was a pleasure to work with, and Meredith Burgess of the VAE did a wonderful job organizing the event.

Afterward, I took the opportunity to drive over to Duke-Raleigh Hospital to see the VAE/Duke Raleigh Hospital Guild exhibit Mosaics which is scheduled to come down in a couple of days. My work, Remnants, was juried into this exhibit showing in the main entrance lobby. It’s a wonderful collection reflecting the many cultures and ethnic groups of America.

If you live in North Carolina, I highly recommend taking advantage of VAE events. Dedicated to helping artists achieve success with events that address not only artistic matters, but also the business issues such as promotion, gallery representation, and pricing. And many of these events are free to members, or very low cost. In just a few months as a member, I have already benefited from their encouraging programs.


Check out these books

March 11, 2010

So, I was in Barnes & Noble of McAllen, TX waiting for our P.F. Chang’s order, and started browsing the quilting isle.  Check it out…on the shelf, right next to each other, are two books that my work is included in.  How cool is that!

art + quilt:  Design Principles and Creativity Exercises by Lyric Kinard is a wonderful book filled with inspiration.  Essays from fiber artists such as Hollis Chatelain and Janine LeBlanc motivate and impress on the reader the value of trusting the process of making art.  Lyric, who writes just as she speaks with a relaxed and no-nonsense approach, guides the artist through the necessary principles of design through fun, short exercises.  I love this book!  It is one I will refer back to again and again!  And see pages 90 and 93 for photos of sample exercises I made for the book.

Quilting for Peace by Katherine Bell (to the right of Lyric’s book) is filled with essays and projects that support communities across America.  Learn how to recycle materials to make sleeping bags for the homeless, or about Ami Simms’ Priority Alzheimer Quilts, or how to support Newborns in Need, or any of the other great projects highlighted in this book.

On pages 5-59 of Bell’s book, you will find a wonderful essay about Operation Kid Comfort, the Armed Services YMCA program I founded six years ago.  Since then, thousands of ‘America’s Littlest Heroes”, the children of our deployed service men and women have received FREE Operation Kid Comfort photo-transfer quilts to hang on to while their parents serve overseas.

Another great book that uses profits to fund programs that support military personnel and their families is Thanking Our Troops:  God Bless America Touring Quilts by Judy Howard.  Not only is this a great book with wonderful stories, quilts and projects, but the exhibit is available to communities and quilt shows.  See the website for the touring schedule.

I was honored to write the essay From One Act of Love (pg 14) for the book.  Additionally, I created a quilt that is included in the tour.  Both tell the story of Operation Kid Comfort, from that first quilt I made for my grandson to the many supporters and volunteers who understand there is no better way to support our troops than to care for their families while they are away.

Whatever your taste, traditional, contemporary or no-fear surface design, these books provide something for each of you.  Enjoy!


Sometimes Art is Just Fun!

March 9, 2010

Actually, most of the time art is just fun.  I love making art.  I love looking at art.  I ALWAYS  love receiving art.  The last few months, I received three new works to adorn my walls.

Color Combo

Back in December, I won Color Combo by the young artist, Chirag Vedullapalli who uses his art to address community issues.  I love the color and the contrast.  Doesn’t it look wonderful on my wall?  Hard to believe this is the work of a nine-year-old!  I can only imagine what he will be making in the future.

I also grabbed the opportunity to buy a print of “The World Turns” by Robin MariaPedrero. Robin’s work is full of vibrant colors  and so interesting. Look how

The World Turns

the view is as if you are watching the world whirl by behind the trees.  Look closely at all her work for interesting aspects.

The last is “Oriole”  from Marne Law of Laguna Vista, TX .  To learn how booth sales work, I assisted Marne with a show where her work was clearly in demand.  You’d never know there was a recession judging by the crowd in her booth.  She gave me this lovely print (my choice) to thank me for helping out.  It is mewho should be thanking Marne…I learned so much that day.


Now…look at all three works.  The colors are similar in shade and value.  The themes: Chirag’s birds flying on the orange horizon, Pedrero’s sun setting through the trees, and Law’s bright reds, golds and blue bring it all together.  They will make a nice grouping on my wall.

What fun!  Now … off to find frames!