I can see from my last post (was it really August???) that I've bogged down on my story and so I will cover the next several years quickly so I can get to what i really want to write about -- being a studio artist.
People are always asking me how I got from not owning a sewing machine, to being featured in books and magazines within 3 years. Here's my secret. I approached learning how to be an art quilter by following the same process I used learning to be a business professional -- understand the industry and learn from the experts. I researched who were the leading art quilters in the country, where did they hang out (SAQA), where did they teach (too many to mention but Art Quilt Tahoe, Alegre Retreat, Asilomar, Quilting by the Lake, Quilt Surface Design, Hudson River Valley Art Workshops come to mind), and what techniques were they teaching. I was fortunate to attend several workshops and learned from Susan Shie, Cas Holmes, Mickey Lawler, Patty Hawkins, Leslie Gabrielse, Susan Brooks, and Heather Thomas.
I also did some local research to find out what was happening in Colorado and found the Front Range Contemporary Quilter's group. This group of 250 members included some of the leading art quilters in the country. Lucky me! I volunteered to run some meetings and soon, was in charge of workshops. When you volunteer, you get a chance to know everyone and make your own mark on organizations. This has been, by far, the best investment of my time and energy.
Subscribing to a ton of magazines gave me a feel for what people were talking about, what techniques were being tried, and what suppliers were selling. Here are some of my favorites:
Joining a "critique group" seemed required so I joined one that ended up too far away for me to actively participate. I was invited to join another group in Denver and that suited my needs perfectly. The group is comprised of art quilters who have been involved in their art for more than 15-20 years so they bring a sense of history to our meetings. Their comments, while generally kind, are also to the point -- something to be cherished in the world of being "politically correct". Honesty is just what you need to get better at your art.
And, the last part of this beginning journey is to enter national competitions. Putting your work out for everyone to see (and judge!) is not easy and this will be the topic of my next posting.