How do you describe yourself as an artist? I am a fiber artist. I create collages with fabric and stitching.
Please describe your work. My fabric collages incorporate many layers of design. I use both commercial and original fabrics that I create with paint, ink, stamps and stencils. I especially love transparent layers using sheer fabrics. Sometimes I use recycled clothing and vintage linens. I always add some hand embroidery to my work. Tiny stitches can draw a viewer into the work and delight them with surprise details. Free motion stitching is the last layer of design that ties the piece together. I use many personal symbols in my work including houses, stones, hillsides and botanical elements.
Describe the path you have taken to develop your art. I started quilting in about 1997 by following a “Quilt In a Day” pattern. I fell in love with combining fabrics, patterns and stitching. Eventually I discovered art quilting and fused appliqué. Over the past six or seven years, I’ve worked to develop my own personal style and I continue to love using the colors, techniques and motifs that have become my signature.
What inspires you? Many things, but they don’t always show up in my work in recognizable ways. I love botanical shapes and the growth cycle. I’m inspired by the combination of something curvy with something straight, something smooth with something rough, something small with something large. I’m inspired by experiences and the moment when a new idea enters my mind. I’m inspired by the luxury of time to spend creating.
What do you want to communicate with your art? I’m not sure I make art with a predictable message. Mostly, I just like to create something interesting and share it with others. Just yesterday I was talking about a new piece of work with some friends. One of them interpreted part of the fabric collage as a tree and another interpreted the same part as a river. I love that. We see things differently and neither is right or wrong.
Do you teach art? Please include comments about your on line workshops. I love to teach workshops! I teach with arts groups and quilt guilds all over and I’m always eager for an opportunity to share my ideas about creativity and working with fabric. I also teach online workshops which can be viewed here. http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com/p/online-workshops.html
Please talk about your associations with art groups, galleries and your experience exhibiting your work. I’m a member of several local and international art groups including the Dallas Area Fiber Artists and Studio Art Quilt Associates. I have had the pleasure of showing my work in many galleries and quilt shows around the world. I am especially proud of a large collaborative project called Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge. We wrote a lot about our project and our quilts have been on tour around the world for three years. See: http://twelveby12.org/index.html
Please talk about your artistic journey and a specific topic that is near and dear to your heart. I’ve been thinking about handwriting lately. I have used it as a graphic element in my artwork for many years. The first time I used it was on an art quilt that was inspired by the neighborhood where we lived in Maine. I had blocks of fabric representing different lots in our cul-de-sac. In each block, I wrote a few lines about who lived there, or what animals we’d seen nearby or the trees growing there. Those bits of text faded over time which was fine. Including those thoughts in the form of handwritten notes was about suggesting the stories and memories associated with the place, not so much about telling a specific story. They were not necessarily meant to be read, understood or last through the years. I continue to use handwriting in my work to suggest the idea of a narrative. When we see handwriting we understand there are words and thoughts behind it, even if we can’t decipher exactly what they are. I also use the act of handwriting on fabric to help me understand the ideas I’m exploring in a particular piece. If I’m working with a green piece of fabric, I may begin to write about the things around me that are green. That might lead me to write about some underlying thoughts that I didn’t realize could be associated with a particular piece of art. It’s “stream-of-consciousness” and I try to pay attention to the unexpected results. I also love the authentic, expressive line created by an individual with her own handwriting. No one has bad handwriting if you are simply creating dynamic, interesting shapes! And everyone creates something entirely unique. It works when you write tiny and squish the words all together, or if you use a giant brush and make huge, singular letters. A tiny bit of handwriting may be just one small element in my fabric collages, but it’s a signal that I really believe that everyone has a story to tell and experiences to share. (see my quick handwriting tutorial: http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com/2012/03/hand-writing-on-fabric.html)