Afraid You Can’t Satisfy the Longing?

April 16th, 2014

What is it that you long to do? For me it was drawing & painting faces.  If you are familiar with the art I’ve done over the last decade, you’ll see the face and figure present in almost every piece. I have relied heavily (ok, totally!) on photographs to convey and represent my love of the female face.

I can draw faces. I even have the work to show for it. This portrait was done back in the 80s when I took an evening class. Having a few more children got in the way of me doing anymore portraits outside of class. It just takes me so darn LONG. This was the only one ever did.

It has been so long that I was afraid I couldn’t do it anymore. Or was it that I didn’t want to take the TIME to do it? Was time the excuse for not doing it, or was it fear I would never be good enough to satisfy my longing. I didn’t just want to draw/paint faces, I wanted to draw/paint beautiful faces.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to satisfy my longing.

You know how crazy that is. Logically, you and I both know that to get good at something you have to WORK.AT.IT. I know that if I try, if I put in the time, I can create faces that embody my desires and intentions. But the desire to create, to take pencil or brush in hand, is not controlled by logic, is it?

Driven by desire I signed up for Judy Wise’s Painting Faces class. Desire won out. Desire conquered time. Desire walked over fear.

Three weeks into the daily class I finally started painting. Time is still an issue, but last week I found/made space at the end of my day to paint. I had to, the longing was unbearable.

And guess what? I’ve done two paintings. Not finished, gallery worthy paintings. I am not aiming for that. What I’m doing is LEARNING how to paint faces.And as I learn, I am finally satisfying my longing. And I must say, it feels so very, very good.

How will you satisfy your longing? Is fear involved for you too?

It’s important to remember that the longing will always be there.
It doesn’t end. It’s not an empty hole we need to fill, but a magnetized
inner space that draws experience and life to us, and us to it.
(Women’s Power Wheel)

Lesley Riley painting

My first painted face. She looks as scared as I was. Rather than futz around with the background, I cut her out and draped her in something familiar – fabric. Just need to glue her into my journal.


Lesley Riley painting

A work in progress. Painting over al collaged background to add texture and color under the painting. I’m still refining and need to finish her mouth and nose. I like the loose look of her mouth but need to go back in some more. I’m waiting because I don’t want to lose the look. I think #2 appears more relaxed than #1, don’t you?

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    You Have to Play to Win

    April 13th, 2014

    The Art of Whimsical Lettering - jacket art
    The giveaway for Joanne Sharpe’s The Art of Whimsical Lettering was quite fun because I asked for CREATIVE entries.

    The most creative entry came from Phoebe from Sweet Skies:

    Well… Last week I got a call from my boss (I’m a journalist) who wanted to send me to Africa last minute to do a report on how the global economy and climate change are affecting safaris in southern Africa. So I get to South Africa and immediately started on my safari. The first thing they told me that was due to drought, there are game shortages in the park, so the lions have been pretty aggressive as of late.

    After a few days driving around the park, I’ve seen a plethora of animals, but no lions – maybe they were just trying to scare me? So last night we’re are settling down for the night and we hear something large walking around outside our campsite. For over an hour, something just outside our line of sight….

    Then all of a sudden a lion comes charging into the camp – straight for me! I freeze up and grab my work bag to protect me (yeah, cuz how is that going to help?). The lion comes running past, and instead of going for me grabs my bag, and disappears into the night. Safe! It is only several hours later, after the adrenalin wears off, that the realization sets in that all of my work is in that bag… And I’ve been here for almost a week.

    So why do I need the Art of Whimsical Lettering? Because all I have is loose-leaf paper and an old fashioned fountain pen with which to write my article for the newspaper. And I think the only way my boss will take the story is if it looks REALLY awesome with my new skill of creative lettering. 


    You said creative – but it didn’t have to be true – enjoy! 


    So very, very creative, Phoebe. The book is yours!

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      just because

      April 9th, 2014

      Jane LaFazio Gift


      A gift from a friend in California arrived here in Maryland on this beautiful California dreamin’ kind of day.  I’m taking a moment from my busy day to share it with you just because the giver took a moment from her day to send it to me.

      After my initial swoon of gratitude for her gift (a petite journal embellished with her divine fiber art) and her gesture, my next impulse was to do the same for someone else. Just because. Because while it’s wonderful to be the recipient of such a gesture, I know deep down, it’s so much more fun to be the instigator and create the experience for someone else.

      Thanks, Jane LaFazio.


      PS. Even her cards are a work of art. Makes me want to create some cards of my own too. What a creative instigator Jane is!

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        Getting It Write – The Art of Whimsical Lettering Giveaway

        April 8th, 2014

        The Art of Whimsical Lettering - jacket art


        My friend Joanne Sharp has given us all a gift. There’s no longer a need to study  the exacting art of calligraphy to get wonderful, artful lettering into your artwork. The secret is to use and embellish your own handwriting.

        The Art of Whimsical Lettering is an artful instruction book about creating stylized fonts and expressive artwork using the reader’s own personal handwriting skills to decorate journals, canvas art or other projects that use text.

        I’ve always been a hand-lettering wimp. I want to do it, but it takes me too much time and practice to get the results I want. Joanne has taken the mystery out of the how and tells you how to start with where you are and then add to it. Sometimes the look you want is all in the pen – she’s got you covered on what pen to use for different effects and techniques, along with a plethora of other tips and tricks.

        The thing is, Joanne makes it all look so SIMPLE. I like simple. I can do simple. So I’m hanging on to the copy I bought. BUT, Interweave/North Light has given me a copy to GIVE AWAY!

        Just leave a comment here telling me why you need this book. I’ll randomly choose the most creative or neediest response that I receive by 10 AM Sunday morning, April 13th. The lucky winner will be noticed via email and here on the blog. Will it be you?


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          Circumstances & Color

          April 7th, 2014


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            Intentional Printing: An Interview with Lynn Krawczyk

            April 4th, 2014

            Intentional Printing - jacket art-2

            Intentional Printing by Lynn Krawczyk is a must addition to your surface design library. I’ve always admired Lynn for both her can-do attitude and her energizer bunny approach to her art. Lynn produces like a full-time artist yet works full times an engineer. Talk about switching gears!

            While I have been doing a variety of surface design on fabric for years, I do not consider myself to be a “serious” surface designer. And guess what, neither does Lynn! Her approach, as described in her book and below, allows for a relaxed and serendipitous approach to surface design. But don’t be fooled. Lynn creates some serious art and she’s someone who should be seriously held in high esteem for her talent. The bottom line is – “Hey, you can do this too!”

            I had the chance to interview Lynn in between her bouts of paint flicking and pattern printing. I wanted to know more about the woman behind the paint book.

            Lynn, When I first heard about your book, I was struck by the idea of intentional printing. For those who have not yet read your book, what do you mean by intentional and how does that differ from, um, unintentional printing or art-making?


            Great question! Intentional Printing is about working in cooperation with serendipity. It’s about leaving enough room in your work process for happy accidents or to change directions but having an end goal in mind and working to guide your piece toward it.

            It’s about striking a good balance between control and creative flow. Relying on just one or the other can often make it difficult to create work that you really love. So working with intent can help you get to that happy place in your art.

            Those who know you know that you are crazy about fabric and surface design (and coffee). You have mentioned many times on your blog and in conversation that you also love to write. Percentage wise, what’s the passion ratio for each and what’s the actual percentage of creative time you spend on each?

            I’ve never really thought about this one before! I’d have to say that is probably about 50/50. When I’m working on printing fabric, I need to be in my studio. But writing? I can do that anywhere. All I need is somewhere to park the words so in a lot of ways, it’s more accessible during the busy work week.

            Your book, Intentional Printing read more like a conversation than a how-to book. What I particularly liked was that you included things that I often question, but that aren’t covered in many how-to books. For example – drying painted fabric. You should see my in the studio when I’m in a surface design mode – plastic and fabric covered surfaces everywhere. So naturally, I always wonder, “How do the pros do it?” Thanks to you, now I know that the method I devised out of necessity is how you, the pro do it. It’s those little assurances that made this a joy to read. So my question is, Lynn, how do you know what we are thinking?

            I installed a nanny cam in your studio.  Just kidding! You should see my studio when I’m in a printing marathon. There is fabric hanging from those pants hanger things (the ones with clips on each end) and those are hung from the ceiling fan and closet door and shower curtain rod. And there is fabric trailing all the way down the hallway and on the ironing board. Every surface is a potential drying area.

            I think if we all sat down and had a chat, we’d find that we all work similarly in the studio. And it doesn’t really matter if your studio is a lovely 1200 sq ft building or your sofa. There are things that we all do that are the same. It’s one of the unifying elements of artists.

            I think it’s really important to take down the idea that professional artists have some magic way of doing things. It’s just not true. And it was important to me when I was writing the book to cover how to accomplish even the mundane things – it all needs doing!

            Do you think your engineering background is a help, a hinder or a non-issue when it comes to creating art?

            I think it’s helpful for me. I say that because I can often visualize the end product before I even begin working. And then I construct it backwards. It’s a little bizarre sometimes but it works for me.

            It also helps me compartmentalize. So I really break down how to get from point A to point B in decisive steps. Oh. And post-it-notes. Life is not complete without post-it-notes.

            Art Quilt by Lynn Krawczyk

            Art Quilt by Lynn Krawczyk

            Of the eight fabric printing techniques in your book, what’s your favorite and why

            I really love Drop Cloth Printing. It’s got an energy that is I think reflects the atmosphere of art making. At least how I feel when I’m working in the studio. It’s kind of boisterous and restrained at the same time. Like it’s excited but it also knows it has a job to do. I like the push and pull it produces.

            What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever used to print fabric with?

            I read a lot about surface design and I continue to be fascinated with the idea of natural printing. One day I got the idea in my head that the berries the little tree outside my back door would be awesome to print with. I gathered up a bunch of them, hauled them up to my studio and laid them out on some white fabric.

            They were lovely, all orange and red and brown and I knew they wouldn’t produce the same color when squashed but I figured they’d make something interesting.

            So I folded over the fabric and whacked away with a hammer for a while (worked the dog into an absolute barking frenzy) and didn’t realize that while I was doing this, the little buggers were shooting out the open sides of the fabric like ping pong balls.

            I spent weeks finding all of them in my studio. The resulting fabric was less than exciting (their juice was pretty much clear) but hey, you just never know until you give it a shot, right? From now on I just admire their little berry selves outside.

            What would you tell someone who is drawn to doing something creative, like designing their own fabric, but, in her mind, has never been a creative person?

            I’d say this: everyone struggles with self-doubt. I still do, too. It’s one of the cons that come with being an artist. Can’t have the good without the bad.

            But every time I hit one of those periods in my art life, the first thing I do is sit back and consider this: what would I be doing if I wasn’t making art? The alternatives never satisfy, they are always lacking.

            So that leaves me with having to face my fear or my angst or just simply my bad mood and push it out of the way. Being creative is not for sissies. It’s a lifestyle that requires a lot of self-examination and introspection and a willingness to constantly question yourself. But you always come out stronger in the end.

            Banish the idea that you will excel at something the first time you do it. Give yourself the chance to make friends with it and trust me, you’ll find that comfortable place.


            Lynn is also one of the founders of The Printed Fabric Bee, an invitational group of 10 surface design artists that I consider myself  lucky  to be a member of. We share the wealth with monthly fabric swatch giveaways so check it out.

            Find Lynn on Facebook, Instagram and on her beautiful new website/blog Smudged Texiles Studio.

            Want to continue along on this blog hop? Here’s the places to hop on over to~ (PS, there might even be an Intentional Printing book giveaway on some of them!)

            · 4/1

            ·         Virginia 4/2

            ·         Twisted Sister 4/2

            · 4/3

            ·         Lesley Riley 4/3 (You are here!)

            · 4/3

            ·         Bloom Bake Create 4/4

            · 4/4

            · 4/8

            ·         CraftyPod 4/8

            ·         My Clothes Line 4/9

            · 4/9

            · 4/11

            ·         Tracy 4/11

            ·         Smudged Textiles Studios 4/14

            ·         Sew Mama Sew 4/20

            ·         Lisa Date TK

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              Posted in ART Quilt, artist interviews, Books, fiberart, Inspiration, surface design | 9 Comments »

              How Artists Hokey Pokey

              April 3rd, 2014

              Lesley Riley Fabric

              Today I am doing the artist’s version of the Hokey Pokey.

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                Posted in fabric,, fiberart, Inspiration, surface design | 2 Comments »

                Mirror Image

                April 2nd, 2014



                Mirrors are great for checking our appearance. We want to know how we look. Do we look good, clean, successful, polished, presentable? Mirrors will answer all those questions, but it’s all just packaging. Some of us are wrapped in plain brown paper tied with a string. Others prefer the glitz of shiny wrapping paper and curled ribbons. Some days we don’t even bother wrapping. While outside appearances are often a reflection of what and who we are on the inside, many times there is not a clue to be had.

                WYSIWUG* works when designing a website, but there’s really no way of telling anything about a person by their appearance. We’ve been warned not to judge a book by its cover, but we all know covers entice you to pick up the book or magazine. Once you open it though, it has to deliver. All show and no substance doesn’t cut it. We don’t fall for all the smoke and mirrors anymore.

                So how do you portray the unseen, the the real you? Art is one way of making the soul visible but how do you know if what you are putting out there is reflective of the real you. What do people on the outside see when looking at you? All of these things came up as I worked on a new website design.

                Many people design their blog or website with themselves or the people they know in mind. The real function of an online presence is to introduce yourself to people who don’t know you. According to studies, people will decide within five (yes, 5!) seconds whether to stick around or not. They will scan, not read, so visuals are extremely important and have to communicate what you are all about.

                So what am I all about? I’m not particularly clear on this myself. I have a hard time settling on visuals because I am constantly changing and growing into myself. I figured it was time to step back and take a look at who I am and what I’m all about.

                One of the things I do as a coach and mentor is help artists find their voice, their style. It can be in plain sight but we have a hard time seeing it since we are so close to it, so wrapped up in it. We can’t often see or understand what we are intuitively drawn to. Friends (or coaches), being on the outside looking in (objectively), can often see what we cannot.

                I needed someone on the outside to hold up a mirror for me.

                Before I go any further, let me step back a bit. Everything I’m saying here is based on the premise that what you do, how you act, and the art you create is all coming from a genuine place. If you are trying to be like someone, or create art based on someone else’s vision, no one will be seeing anything clearly. Smoke and mirrors create illusion. You need to first get rid of the smoke and tarnish and polish the mirror.

                The real mirror of your life and soul is your true friend.
                A friend helps you glimpse who you really are and what you are doing here.
                John O’Donohue

                So I went searching for my mirror image. Two people appeared in my life. Not close friends, but people I had come to know through my art and online presence. One gave me what I was looking for without even knowing I was looking. The other knew exactly what I was looking for and gave me specific insight.

                Some things I learned confirmed with what I already thought. Other information  gave me new insight as to how I am perceived in the world. Both were very helpful.  Yet I soon realized that the most valuable insight was something no mirror would reveal.

                What is inside of us radiates and shines creating a mirror of our soul that only others can see. We can never see ourselves as others do because they are seeing us through their eyes. What and who they see is colored by their own perception, their own soul.

                We can turn to others for guidance and feedback, but the only way to know ourselves and to put that into a form that others can see and understand, is to BE ourselves.

                Not try to be what others see or what we want them to see.
                Not try to be what we want others to think we are.
                Not try to be anything but who and how we are right here, right now.

                The more certain and comfortable you are with who you are, the more light you shine on others. You become their mirror. (Tweet this.)

                There are two ways of spreading light:
                to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
                Edith Wharton

                No light, no mirror image.

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                  Posted in Inspiration, Wisdom | 9 Comments »

                  I’m old, so why bother?

                  March 19th, 2014


                  One afternoon in 1772 Mary Delany noticed how a piece of coloured paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium. She lifted a pair of filigree-handled scissors – the kind that must have had a nose so sharp and delicate that you could almost imagine it picking up a scent. With the instrument in her hand she began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geranium petal shape from the scarlet paper.” (The Telegraph)

                  In 1772 we began fighting the Revolutionary war. It was also the year oxygen was scientifically discovered. But what I find most amazing of all is that in 1772, Mary Delany was 72. Mary Delany “invented” mixed media art at the age of 72.

                  See if this sounds typical to you: on a good day I have the energy and spirit of my 25 year old self. On a “bad” day when my hands ache and my energy wanes, I consider myself old. I  have even been heard to say,” I’m old, so why bother.” Fortunately, most of the time I operate, plan, dream and scheme like my 25 year old self. It’s only when I catch my reflection in the mirror that I remember I am not.

                  Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise. Margaret Atwood

                  Actually, it’s only my body that is getting old. I am ageless. (←tweet this)  I attribute my youthful spirit in part to the fact that I live my passion. As artists, when we create we tap in to the ultimate fountain of youth, we never lose our childlike sense of wonder.

                  Artists spin straw into gold, make something out of nothing. Mary Delany used tissue paper, watercolor and glue to create mixed media collage that is now housed in the British Museum. I don’t think it ever dawned on her that she was too old to try something new. ” ‘I have invented a new way of imitating flowers,’ she wrote with astonishing understatement to her niece in 1772.” Mary just followed her passion for botany and art. She was only forced to stop at the age of 88 when she began to lose her eyesight.

                  It so easy today to feel old, especially in our youth-centered culture. Botox and anti-aging cream are marketed to women in their 40s. My 20-something daughters are already worrying over their wrinkles. I’m not always happy when I see my smile lines, but then I smile because they are smile lines and even better, smile lines disappear when you smile!

                  The bottom line is, next time you think you’re too old, or you are feeling old, tap into the fountain of youth we call ART.

                  PS. Mary’s story is both historically interesting and inspiring. I was inspired to find out more and ordered The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72.

                  Want to know how she created her collages? Here’s an excerpt from the 2011 Telegraph articleA collage education: the woman who reinvented nature:

                  “Unlike pale botanical drawings, they are all done on deep black backgrounds. She drenched the front of white laid paper with black watercolour to obtain a stage-curtain-like darkness. Once the paper was dry she’d paste on to these backgrounds hundreds of the tiniest dots, squiggles, scoops, moons, slivers, islands and loops of brightly coloured paper, slowly building up the verisimilitude of flora.

                  According to those who’ve tried to recreate her technique, Mrs Delany used tweezers, a bodkin, perhaps a thin, flat bone folder (shaped like a tongue depressor and made for creasing paper), brushes of various kinds, mortar and pestle for grinding pigment, bowls to contain ox gall (the bile of cows, which when mixed with paint makes it flow more smoothly) and more bowls to contain the honey that would plasticise the pigment for her inky backgrounds, pieces of glass or board to fix her papers, pins to hang her papers to dry. It was a feast for the tactile sense; it was dirty, smelly, prodigious.”

                  And, as always, I’d love to hear what you have to say about art and age. Your thoughts and comments feed my youthful soul.


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                    Posted in Books, Inspiration, mixed media, Wisdom | 46 Comments »

                    Printed Fabric Winner Announced

                    March 16th, 2014

                    mosaic collage
                    Between this blog and Facebook, the response to the giveaway was astounding. It’s obvious to me now that you love fabric as much as I do, especially hand-printed, original fabric by the outstanding members of the Printed Fabric Bee. Thank you for dropping by and throwing your hat into the ring.

                    The winner of the Mosaic Printed Fabric Bee swatches is Carol A Schindler of the Running with Scissors Fiber Art Group.

                    Remember, there will be a new opportunity to win each month. Next up is Carol R. Eaton who chose the March theme: interpretations of the colors and textures found in woodlands.

                    Stay tuned on Facebook!

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                      Posted in Inspiration, Printed Fabric Bee | 1 Comment »