My kind of people!
So, I began taking classes from the ones who taught and starting learning lots about creative stitchery, painting and other new techniques.
My first teacher was Carol Watkins -- a fiber artist living in Boulder, CO. She taught a 6 week class at the Art Student's League of Denver and I learned about free-hand cutting and piecing, stamping, free motion stitching, and numerous other techniques that fiber artists use to create their art quilts. It opened my eyes up to the possible.
I started making lots of art quilts. Here the first art quilt I made using my own design and the technique of free hand cutting. It's called Moonlit Rockies. I also stitched freehand, following the curves of the pieces.
After it was done, I decided to enter it into a local "shop hop" contest since I had never done this before and low and behold, it won first place! I was shocked! But the best part was, I got a check for $200 as my prize.
This changed everything for me. First of all, it made me think I might have some talent in this new "hobby" of mine. Secondly, I found that the clerks in the local quilt stores started to call me by name (was I getting famous?) and thirdly, I realized there could be a way to pay for all my art supplies -- entering and winning contests.
But it was a much longer time before I actually thought of myself as a real "artist". In 2006, I was still fooling around and thinking my fiber art was just a hobby.
Here's a close up of the machine stitching in this piece.