“Reflect/Retreat” – Embroidery floss, 16″ x 20″, 2017
Here is the final picture of “Reflect/Retreat” that I finished earlier this year. This is my biggest embroidery floss piece yet, and I don’t think I will ever do one bigger than this. This also won People’s Choice for the Hopkins Center for the Arts Member’s Show in the fall of 2017, which was incredibly exciting – it is a juried show and there were some great pieces, so I was surprised!
This is from a weekend that George and I spent up at a camp in northern Minnesota. George made friends with a dog, as he tends to do. This dog was inexhaustible and just wanted to play. Forever. He spent probably close to an hour throwing sticks of increasing sizes, and no matter how large the stick, the dog kept bringing it back. Even when it was thrown into the lake, the dog jumped in without hesitation.
Something that is also special about this is that I was able to incorporate embroidery floss that my grandma sent me from her craft collection. She had a lot of pinks, blues, and browns, so I thought this would be the perfect image to use these with. I remember as a kid digging through her craft supplies when my family visited her in Florida, and working on craft projects with her, so I am glad she thought of me and pulling these out for me when she was cleaning out some of her old boxes. Thank you Grandma Fuller, I hope you like how I used them!
I wanted to post a little bit about some of my past projects, so I wanted to start with this one. When I have these projects, I carry them around with me for months to work on them whenever I have time. This shell has taken many trips to coffee shops (notice some of the coffee stains), around with me on errands, and even traveled with me to Oklahoma for my cousin’s wedding. I purposefully choose projects that can go wherever I go since they take so long to finish, and I get cabin fever if I am stuck at my kitchen table. I did decide it was time to invest in a craft lamp to give me better light though, so that helped to make the process easier and I think will help my future projects be more successful as well. I should have done that years ago!
This was also one of the few times that I have gone back and used a medium for a second time (other than something traditional like paint). I think I have finally started to get my groove – I figured out that my life purpose is to glue things to boards. There is a freedom and confidence that comes with knowing this, and I’m really excited about some of the ideas that I have stewing. I loved my first embroidery floss picture of the waterfall, but I really expanded on the technique with this shell. I can even see how I was learning more and more about what worked and what didn’t on this picture – hopefully it’s not too obvious!
One of my favorite aspects of these pieces that I have made over the last few years is that they are like a journal; I can see my moods, experiences, and situations expressed over time as I moved through the creation of the image. This took me 4 months to complete – when I started this I was not in a good place. My work life was really draining and emotionally exhausting, and it took a lot out of me to get up every day and do what I needed to do. Because of this, there were periods of time where I wouldn’t make any progress because I was stumped on where the next string should go and didn’t want to figure it out. But then I started to get out of my slump, any my brain was working differently. The decisions I would make and flow I would create was changed as I changed. I love making these little decisions piece by piece that add up to the whole – but just don’t ask me to decide what to have for dinner, that is too hard.
Earlier this month,, my extended family traveled up to Camano Island in northern Washington to celebrate the legacy of my great-great grandmother, Fanny Y. Cory. She was an artist and illustrator, and was one of the first women illustrators in the industry when she started out in her late teens. She also wrote and illustrated a couple of comic strips that ran in newspapers across the country.
It was amazing to celebrate this life of a woman who I never met but is part of my artistic heritage. My father’s cousin, Jason Dorsey, has an amazing art gallery and living space called Sunnyshore Studio, and he organized an art exhibit (with a movie!) to celebrate this woman. He provided me with the opportunity to show a few of my pieces, along with my other artistic family members (and there are a lot of them) – it was an honor to be a part of this event and help to show how her legacy continues down through the generations. Check out his website (sunnyshorestudio.com) and recent blog posts – I’m featured in one of the videos!
When my grandma was younger, her mother and grandmother (FYC) would have creative sessions where they would paint and make art, and they called this the “Grunt and Groan Art Club”. The story is that they would be so immersed in their creations that they wouldn’t have time to have full conversations, and would only manage to grunt in acknowledgement and support of what they all were making. I love this – not only is it adorable to imagine this scene, but also because the idea of making art being voiced by “grunts and groans” resonates with me. My art involves hours of being hunched over a table, which is hard on my back and eyes. Sitting at tables in Starbucks and on my living room floor is not conducive to a pain-free experience. I now have an art studio with an adjustable table, which is going to help quite a bit, but the sounds I have emitted when hoisting myself off of the floor after an hour of gluing dots are not the most pleasant. Creating art consistently requires discipline to push through the times that are not enjoyable. For me, since each piece takes so much time, I need to be intentional about taking every opportunity to move forward and using my time well.
Finishing one of these projects tends to put me in a weird head space – on one hand, I am ecstatic at the finished product and feel like it is a real accomplishment. The moment of putting a piece in the frame with the mat after months of dragging it around with me in a pillowcase is really a special moment for me. However, there is also a sense of being off-balanced – what the heck do I do with my time now? For five months, I would spend my Saturday mornings in Starbucks or my lunch hours being that weirdo in the corner gluing string to a board. I have spent so many of my spare moments and thoughts concentrating on a few square inches of space, and nothing else. And I loved it! It is meditative and calming, especially in the time when the end of the project is in sight and I use every free second I can to push through to the finish line. But now, I am thrown back into reality. Don’t get me wrong, it is good that I finally got around to finishing painting the giant bookcase that has been sitting in the middle of my one bedroom apartment for a couple of weeks, and it was about time that I actually ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher.But it is unsettling to be without a project that has been constantly on my mind for five months.
There is also the anxiety of starting the next thing. I am so happy with this shell, but that puts a lot of pressure on my next piece! I will be working on the next two projects simultaneously – one to work on at home because it doesn’t travel well and a second to take around to the coffee shops and work on on my lunch break. I’m excited to get started, but it is hard to make the leap into really digging into them. I have a pattern of starting the layout of a project, getting overwhelmed, and then ignoring it for weeks. But no more! I am determined to be more disciplined and start going on the next projects soon. These take too long to drag my heals in between!. So if you see me on a Saturday and I’m sitting at Caribou NOT being the weirdo in the corner with some crazy assortment of art supplies in front of me, please poke me and tell me to get moving.
PS – Thank you for all the kind words and compliments on this. It is really fun for me to show it off, and I appreciate the support!
Here is a sneak peek of the latest project – I’m going back to the embroidery floss (like what I used to make the waterfall). There will be a lot of little pieces and so it is a challenge to keep the ends from fraying, but I’m excited about the spectrum of colors and using the lines to show shape and shadows.
My (ambitious) goal is to have this finished by the due date for the Hopkins Center for the Arts Spring Members show – which is April 4th. Eek! I’m not sure I’ll make it, but I have to keep moving forward and at least try!
Hello! Thank you so much for visiting my page – this is something that I have wanted to set up for a long time, and I finally got my act together and figured it out. I’m hoping to use this as a way to share my art beyond a wider audience than my cats and the people at Starbucks, since that is where I take all of my projects to work on. I’ll have updates on the progress of what I’m working on at any given moment, musings on things like why I spend three months gluing paper dots to a board, and notifications of when and where pieces are displayed. It can be difficult to stay motivated when it takes so long to complete an art work, so I welcome and encourage and feedback you may have! Thank you so much for being along for the ride on this – it means the world to me. Stay tuned for more!