Saturday, April 23, 2005

"Paradox" c 2001 - made during a time of depression.
copyright Pat Dolan

"Becoming" - c2001 - made during a time of depression...
copyright Pat Dolan


Someone recently asked me how I combined my art with spirituality. It was a good question and I pondered it awhile before I replied. The following is my response:

As to how I combine my spiritual practices with my art… often it is totally unconscious. I’ll begin working with color & fabric and something simply evolves from my mood, the moment, the materials, and me. At other times, I deliberately USE my art notebooks as venting places for emotional over-load. Those notebooks are considerably different from the ones I use to develop the structure, balance, harmony, etc. of a piece I am planning.

I could call them my Emotional Art Notebooks, I suppose. During times of intense grief or major healing, I often find myself unable to sleep. Then I come to the studio, pull out the notebook & my CraPa oil pastels, sit on the floor in the candlelight, close my eyes & simply begin. I don’t want to consciously choose the colors, I want my spirit to have full sway. I use my non-dominant hand to select the crayon & to make the drawings – with my eyes closed. I want to stay totally in my body with my feelings & allow them to speak through my mind, heart, down my arm, and out my hand without interference from my thinking, judging self.

Once a drawing is complete, I will look at it to see what I recognize. Are there 3 black spots in one corner? Where in my life do I have those 3 black spots? What are they? Why are they? Where are they within me? And that big slash down the center – what is on each side of the slash? What am I seeing &/or feeling as polarized & opposite & irreconcilable in my life at this time? The color of the slash will tell me even more how separate I believe the two entities are within me. Is it one of the colors of the rainbow? If so, what color is it and how is it associated with the 7 major chakras (personal power centers) in my body? If not, what colors of the rainbow are used to create the color used? If it is black, do I think of the slash as ‘deadly’ or as something on one or the other side of it as ‘deadly?’

I guess you can get my drift from that! Once I have done a drawing, sometimes I feel that it is incomplete. This is especially true if one or more of the lines or colors goes off the page. Then I select the color of the crayon that was leaving the page, turn the page & begin where it left off on the page before. Again, I will close my eyes after I’ve begun, allowing my intuitive self to express the feelings within and give me clues for my personal healing.

I have several dark & gloomy art-quilts from times when I was still able to quilt while in the state of depression. (Most of the time I do not or cannot do any kind of art when I am suffering from depression.) Some of these quilts are black, grays, white and red – and quite lively, actually. Others are muted, confusing or muddled, dim in color, shape or form. My 9/11 quilt is actually very light, with the central panel made up of my hand-dyed muted purples with blues, surrounded by a large, totally white border in which the words of a poem I wrote are machine stitched.

And, of course, I have many quilts that are full of color, life, enthusiasm and fun! Much of my creating time is spent processing as I work on some thought, concept, ideal, situation, etc. By the time the quilt is finished, I have moved through the issue and learned what I needed while doing so.

There also are several incomplete, unfinished quilt projects...some I hope to go back to when the time/idea is right. Others may be cut up and used in something new. Others may never see the light of day again! And it's all OK with me.

And, finally, I have some purely funky, fun mini-quilts that arise out of spontaneous moment of play. They are often my favorites, for obvious reasons!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Favorite Room...

Our Web-Ring mistress has asked another question for this week - what is my favorite room in the house, and why... I've never really thought about it before but now that I am, I realize I like different rooms for different reasons.

My favorite-most, FAVORITE room in our home is the studio. When we downsized from an expanded ranch to a town house, I insisted on having the largest room as my studio - no matter what that room turned out to be. Well, it happens to be the living room! Since there is a family room with a fireplace at the back of the house, the living room became my office and studio. I have 3 north-facing windows for lots of daylight, plus I open the front door a lot to let the morning sunshine stream into the room.
The room is probably 12' x 15' so I'm a lucky duck, indeed. Mind you, the dining room is across the entry hall - so it has become my 'secondary' work space - where the ironing board & second sewing machine reside unless we're having company. (lucky duck, right?!) I have a large design wall, which I love. In front of the wall are 2 units of 6 x-ray drawers in each unit - that are topped by a beautiful, polyurethaned piece of wood. That is my cutting & work table for most things. Next to the x-ray drawers stands a huge white wardrobe that I bought at Lowes - it boasts 5 wide & deep shelves between which I have added extra support uprights in the center so they don't collapse under the weight of all the fabric.

Back in the 1990's, our son took an old painted white vanity & cut it apart leaving 2 units of 3 drawers each where I keep my machine accessories, scissors, some extra sewing sandwiches for testing stitching/tensions, basting pins, etc. He joined the 2 drawer units with a super-sized 3 x 5' tabletop with a cut-out for my machine. The machine is set-in flush with the work surface, making machine quilting as easy as it can get. The sewing table is in front of the north-facing windows - great daylight & well-lit at night, too. I have a lovely white wicker chair at the sewing table, which I turn around to face the room when I'm reading, researching or visiting with someone in the studio.

On another wall is a tall filing cabinet (for teaching & genealogy materials); a huge white bookcase fille

Monday, April 11, 2005

Newly embellished LIMERICK quilt!
copyright Pat Dolan

Limerick - detail of embellishment with Irish postal stamps + shamrock garlands.
copyright Pat Dolan

Limerick Quilt Update!

Well, the Limerick quilt just wasn't done. It didn't look completely finished to me... Do you know that feeling when something is missing in a creation, but you can't quite name it? I looked through my small bag of foreign coins for an Irish coin or two to attach to the quilt, but there were no Irish coins already drilled with a small hole for stitching purposes. Sadly, I went to bed, somewhat unsettled - but happy that the slides & digital photos all were completed. And knowing the quilts needed to go to Kansas ASAP.

When I awoke this morning, I was all set to label the quilts and pack them for shipping. Then a glimmer of an idea for embellishing the Limerick quilt popped into my head - I could take some Irish stamps and a small County Limerick map and find a way to attach them to the quilt! When I laid the selected items on the quilt, they looked perfect! Now all I had to do was to figure out HOW to safely attach the paper objects to the cloth...

Using a Liquitex Matte Medium, each side of the paper objects was brushed separately, allowing the items to dry in between coatings. Then I used some new YLI fine metallic thread in the sewing machine & stitched each item down where it seemed to belong. Lo and behold, the Limerick quilt was finally & completely done!

The quilts were then labelled, wrapped in plastic with bubblewrap to prevent creases, placed carefully in the box, sealed, signed & delivered to the US Post Office for shipping to Linda Frost in Lawrence, Kansas. Yeehaw!!!

I'm ever so much happier with the finally-finished Limerick quilt than I was with the quilt as it was last night. Sometimes the smallest attention to detail provides the crowning glory for a piece. That seems to have worked its magic for my County Limerick Quilt, 2005.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

copyright Pat Dolan

New Quilts

New Quilts…

In early March or so, Linda Frost - from Kansas Art Quilters, sent me a shoebox full of 1/3 and ¼ size pieces from the 2005 new designs from FabriQuilt fabrics. The assignment was to create a 20” x 20” quilt from the FabriQuilt fabrics for the company to display in the upcoming Kansas Quilt Market. A second option was to create a 24” square quilt for the Kansas Art Quilter’s ArtQuilt special exhibit featured during Quilt Market. A shoe box full of free new fabrics in trade for two medium/small quilts – sounded like a great idea to me!

When the box arrived, I was thrilled & immediately laid out several groupings of fabrics for potential quilts. In fact, within 3 days time, I had designed two quilt tops! Then we got an e-mail offering MORE fabric, this time from the Limerick line – and I requested them by return mail.

One of the home counties of my Irish ancestors is County Limerick, Ireland. Several years ago my husband and I visited the ancestral birth places of some of our people and I fell in love with the Rockhill/Bruree section of southern Co. Limerick – so much like my home state of Minnesota but without the winters!

So I designed two more quilts with the Limerick line and then set about machine quilting them – they are due in Kansas by April 15! I had planned to do some embellishing, but as each quilt was completed, only one seemed to be asking for some glitzy decorations. And that quilt was playfully embellished with mini-shamrock garlands, and the quilt is named “Limerick” in honor of my Collopy ancestors who heralded from Rockhill – and in honor of the fabric line.

The photos let you see a glimpse of my happy month and a half of designing and quilting, thanks to Kansas Art Quilters and the FabriQuilt Company!

Signs of Life III - detail
copyright Pat Dolan

Signs of Life III 24" sq.
copyright Pat Dolan

Night Garden 20" sq
copyright Pat Dolan

Spiral Squared
copyright Pat Dolan

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Nuthatch in the yard
copyright Pat Dolan

Rose-Breasted Woodpecker
copyright Pat Dolan

Blackbirds in the backyard
copyright Pat Dolan

April Showers!

Well, it's lots more than "showers" here and elsewhere on the North Central and East Coastal states this weekend. We've been fortunate here in central Jersey with only an inch and a half of rain in the past 24 hours. Some places in the state have upwards of 5" so flooding is a major problem. The gale force winds were something to experience, as well!
But spring is here, the crocus are up and many species of birds are back for the next few seasons. I've been playing with my new Panasonic Luminex FZ20 camera and taking photos from my dining room through the window & screen of those birds visiting my suet feeder. I'll post them here for your enjoyment.
Meanwhile, I've been invited to join a sub-group of SAQA called Fiber Revolution. There are 30 members from six area states that work together to create exhibits in all 6 states. All are vibrant art quilters, many work in an abstract and/or geometric manner, others are very painterly, some are more realistic, some tell stories with their work, some use computer generated images, many dye and print their own fabrics, and all design all their own work.
It is an honor to join this group of professional artists. I can hardly wait to unleash all that creativity I've been sitting on because I saw no reason to complete more work when the work simply ends up in storage. Now there are exhibition opportunities, places to share my work with others, and opportunities to meet other artists and explore new ideas together. It's been a wonderful week!