Let's Face It Workshop
No, I have not been abducted by space aliens. I am alive and well and still living in Lancaster, Ohio. But it has been one hot and busy summer for me. I had a solo show last week and have spent the entire month of July getting ready for it. With my " just one more quilt" attitude, I have been logging in some serious studio time. I have also been working on my SAQA Visioning Project like nobodies business and am proud to say that I accomplished my goal this week! I now have a beautiful little book to use as a paper portfolio (guess the fall will be busy too as I start to market my art work to galleries). There's no rest for the wicked!
Before the summer got so darn hot and crazy I did spend part of my vacation attending a fabulous quilt workshop on fabric portraits. I belong to the Common Threads Quilt Guild in Bexley, Ohio. What a fun bunch of quilters. God bless 'em. I am the only self-proclaimed art quilter in the group, but somehow they let me in. And for a group of pretty traditional quilters they bring in well-known art quilters to speak at our meetings and sometimes give classes.
I had not attended any of their workshops before and decided this one looked really interesting. I love figurative work, but cannot draw people to save my soul. They usually turn out looking rather deformed or perhaps just ape-like, so hey, if she could teach me how to do life-like portraits I was waiting to be amazed, and honestly I was.
Before she started with the technique, Anniko told her story of coming to the US from Hungary in the sixties. She had had hopes of becoming an artist as a teenager and going to art school in Hungary. However, due to the corruption of the communist government and the high cost of the bribes required to enter a specialized school, her parents enrolled her in a school for seamstresses. She hated every minute of her time there and soon came to realize that her sewing was the worst in the entire school. Many years later she learned about quilting in the US and has never looked back. She explained that many of her relatives were annihilated in the Holocaust. She was in possession of one tiny black and white photo of her grandmother and made the most amazing quilt of her that was just purchased by a museum for their permanent collection. What an honor for a girl who couldn't sew!
Well, as we all sat down and prepared to work, I looked at the pattern we were going to be using that was generated from a photo of one of Anniko's friends. I started to feel the slightest niggling of anxiety beginning to stir in my gut. This pattern looked like a very intricate paint by number canvas. Each color of fabric was denoted by a number. Number? I hate numbers! We were to write the numbers on the backs of the various shades of fabric and keep them in order as we worked. Well, I'm sort of a laid back, do it if it feel right sort of girl, and I was very quickly becoming disoriented. I kept having to ask Anniko to come back to my seat, asking "what did you say to do?, Is this right? What area are we supposed to be working on?" I felt like an idiot. Meanwhile, all the traditional quilters are merrily progressing and are way ahead of me. OMG! I was going to be the one person who couldn't do it. The art quilter who couldn't make an art quilt. The laughing stock of the guild! However, an amazing thing happened, after a half an hour the technique just clicked and I got it. I wasn't stupid after all. I could do this. In another hour, not only was I not behind, I was leading the pack, and ooops, not following directions. All those little numbers fell off my fabric and I was using them in an intuitive way. Hey, this is my style after all. I am proud to say that I was one of the few to finish the face before class ended. Anniko told me that my face was "different from all the rest, and I mean that in a good way." It was very interesting to observe that while we were all using the same pattern, each face turned out completly different, and even more odd was the fact that the faces actually looked like the person making them. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to get started on a quilt using my own photograph, but I've got just one more quilt to finish first.