Monday Monday

Monday, Monday………

I love that song by the Mamas & the Papas. The lyrics can be an earwig like the song “Don’t worry. Be happy. “Monday Monday” is not a song of the hopes and possibilities for a new week. Nope. It’s about anxiety (Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day). Anxiety is still present in my own life even though I don’t have a work week anymore. It’s just not as present  by choice. 

Those of us who are driven to achieve a goal, whatever that goal is; are too often driven by achievement anxiety. When I retired from teaching eight years ago in my mid 50’s; I thought that anxiety was gone with the job. I was wrong. I found myself seeking out anxiety like an old friend.  I started making my life task oriented and goal oriented by getting on the artists’ “Call for Entry” treadmill. As a result, I was increasingly more successful in my community of art quilt exhibitions. The pressure of constant deadlines continued as I entered a large  number of exhibitions. Two things ended this cycle. 

The first was a pandemic. Everything stopped. Exhibitions were put on hold. Calls became online exhibitions and my pattern of making art to respond to calls  took a U-turn. I began to clean out closets and experiment with cutting up old work that would not be traveling in exhibits. This became a new material to use in a series of work that was not going to any exhibitions. Instead, I wrote an article about the process, got into a book, and created YouTube videos. Those videos led me to create online classes. Returning to teaching was time consuming but not challenging. It was familiar territory as a career educator. More projects. More deadlines. More anxiety.

When the world began opening up again, the calls for entry seemed to become more competitive. My enthusiasm ebbed. I started to enter without the spark of authentic inspiration. My run of acceptances had come to a conclusion. I had zero energy for making additional online classes or videos. That was a sign. I began to question going down the road of art quilting when I retired instead of returning to painting. (How I got to an art quilter is another post). 

Achievement anxiety was replaced by the blues. I dropped my membership in my local quilt guild and became a member of the art guild. It was then I made a shift in my thinking. My impression of the local art community was an issue. It seemed to me that in the first guild meeting everyone in the room was a landscape painter. Most used oils. A huge number gathered together to fight the heat, the cold, and insects to stand outdoors and paint the red hills here is Southern Utah. (Not my thing!) Instead of trying to fit in with the group, I decided to make friends, and share my own work.

People were curious. The first question was “What is that?” I brought one of the few landscapes I have in my portfolio to share. I felt it was bridge from textiles to painting. At each meeting I gained more acceptance of my work in  this traditional community. I began attending every art event, I entered local exhibitions, and gradually attained a network of connections. Currently  I exhibit  in a couple of local art galleries, teach the occasional in person class, a lecture coming up at a University, and make smaller pieces for gift shops. It’s a mix of activities. 

Looking for the important art quilt exhibition to pour all my energy into, has been replaced by being open to opportunities in my local community. 

Less pressure. More creative time. 

My First Post

“No One Is Going To Read This” was posted once as a short essay on Substack. Substack is a popular app that is a kind of social media for writers. It’s a place where you can read and write on a wide variety of topics. The system encourages readers to get a subscription for the writers they enjoy. It’s a chance for writers to earn income and for readers to support good writing. My possible  issue with Substack was a nonexistent email list. When I tried to post again, Substack’s software thought I hadn’t completed the process. Whatever the reason I returned to an old favorite: WordPress Blog. 

Writing a blog is a creative writing practice. The blog is going to have the same title as my one and only Substack read.  I think of it as  my sketchbook or my journal with more structure. Enough structure that if someone did manage to read my short essays they would make sense. As an artist I don’t always make large time consuming work. Some of my work (in fact the majority of my current work) is small enough to be completed in an afternoon.  These are warm ups for bigger projects. The blog isn’t a sketch. It’s more like an 8 x 10. 

Artists practice with an audience in mind. As a visual artist I pull out my paints, pencils, and markers in the morning when I work in my sketchbook. I usually have several possibilities for artwork which come from that practice. In my sketchbook I allow myself the freedom to never open them up to the public. They are for me. I pay zero attention to fixing a compositional problem. I can always make a note, mentally or in writing and start again on a new page. 

My journal is similar. I write in a moleskin journal without lines. I use a particular pen. (It’s a pilot gel pen with a comfort grip in pink. I have them on a three month Prime subscription purchase.) On the lower right side of the front cover, I write the date the journal was started. Almost everyday I write without any concern for grammar. I let my thoughts flow onto the pages. Recently I started using  a meditation timer and I write until the bell rings. If I have more to say I continue writing, if not I put my pen down and sit for a minute. Occasionally I reread entries. Some entry topics flow from day to day. Other entries are just weather reports or to-do lists.

As an artist I understand the value of constant improvement. Improvement requires time and repetitive practice. There is a place for failure. Failure is not an end, it’s a message. So if “No One’s Going To Read This” never gets an audience; then it’ s message. I am planning on writing with regularity over the course of a year as a creative practice. In my next post, I will examine my motivation for this project. 

Benefitting Art

Donating Art is a “Good Thing”

Every year there is an auction to benefit the Studio Art Quilt Associates. This is the largest organization representing artists, like myself; who work with textiles. The auction raises a substantial amount of money. That money supports their core mission is to promote the art quilt: They define the art quilt brodley as: “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.” 

Like all organizations they have a vision of when their mission will be complete. The vision is that the art quilt is universally respected as a fine art medium. SAQA’s core values are: excellence, innovation, integrity, and inclusion. It’s because of this organization, I have grown into and sustained being a textile artist. So each year I make something for the Auction. 

Candle Light – 12″ x 12″

“As a child, our dinner table always included candles. My mother and father were products of a bygone era. Each was raised by parents born in the 19th century. In an era where we can use a smart device to turn on lights or set lights to turn on with a program; I still love the gentle light of candle “

My small donation called “Candle Light” was submitted with this artist statement. The candlestick is one of a pair that I have kept from my family home. It seems that candle light is more of a romantic idea than actual practice in most homes. During the winter, when the sun sets early, I like having candles lit. In this warm climate of Southern Utah, a fire is rarely needed. Snow doesn’t fall often. Temperatures might be cool but rarely the kind of cold that I got used to in Colorado. The candle reminds me to be aware and to embrace the seasons that have less light. 

Rear Window

My husband and I moved to our current home after a couple of years living in a patio home in a resort community. It was our vacation property. On the first day, I remember sitting on my back patio facing the beautifully landscaped golf course thinking this is iperfect . That view was what many people who retire seek. It was a wonderful “vacation” property, but it was not the right fit for an artist. 

 At the front of my house the street was a social thoroughfare. Retired couples walked the neighborhood with their dogs. People waved to each other. In the evening there were chatty people on patios with friends. It reminded me of living in a college apartment.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock classic film “Rear Window”

In “Rear Window” the central character is a photographer sitting at home held captive by a severely broken leg in a full cast. He spends his day gazing out the window which looks over a central courtyard of four crowded apartment buildings . With nothing to do, he spends his days being a “harmless” voyeur.

He uses nicknames for the neighbors since he has made no social connection with them prior to his accident. “Miss Torso” “Miss Lonelyhearts” “The salesman” live their lives with the windows open during the hot weather. It’s like tuning into different TV channels.

Like the main character, my husband nicknamed some of our neighbors. He referred to the couple directly across the street as “busy” and “the bod”. Busy referred to the wife who never failed to know everyone’s business and to share that information freely. Her husband was the “bod” – short for body. He was a tall man with a large belly. His claim to fame was being the captain of his high school football team which went undefeated 3 years in a row. This seemed to be his last accomplishment.

I nicknamed that property “the fishbowl”. There was no place outside the house where I could just sit and be alone with my thoughts. Even reading on the patio risked a well intentioned call from a neighbor or comment from a golfer.

 To be consistently creative, I need a space to create and a space to dream up what to create next. For me that space is outside my well planted walled garden. I sit on my patio and have breakfast. There is a cart with my sketchbook supplies at hand. I draw on my ipad, scroll through inspiring images on Instagram, and research new techniques on YouTube. Every evening I curl up on the loveseat in the screened portion of the patio to look at the fountain, solar lights, listen for the wind chime, and enjoy beautiful the planting. It’s my dream time.

My creative process takes equal parts action and reflection. For me, reflection is a daily activity. Every creative soul should have their own place to dream. 

What’s yours?

Until the next time…..


Predator – 46×35 / For Sale $800

A friend once purchased a beautiful townhome. It looked out over the blue waters of the ocean. She could walk a few steps off her patio to one of two pools or wander down to the beach. It looked like paradise on a Facebook feed. 

After a few months she became frustrated.  During a phone call she described feeling lonely and entertained the idea of selling out.  Despite going to college, being divorced, and having grown children has never been truly comfortable on her own.  She was paying the price of not embracing independence. 

I crave being alone. If I were in her position I would start my new life avoiding getting to know people. Everyday I would be creating my little routine that keeps me steady without the need for outside help. This may be the artist’s personality.

 An artist is not usually the high school class president, loves to be an ideal volunteer in a club or spend time serving on committees.  Most of my creative friends seek out the company of like minded spirits who get together to let loose,share ideas,  but then have the good sense to give each other their space. 

So if you are like me, enjoy that time alone. It’s fuel for a creative spirit.