Sunday, April 17, 2016

Learning to write - again

Colour Me Positive Challenge
Like most of you, I've been writing since I was 5 or 6 years old. At different stages of my life, what I wrote and why I wrote has changed. At first, I wrote mostly for school - homework, math, essays, posters and stories. As a mom, I wrote lists of things to do and buy, notes for sick or late kids and the occasional letter or card to family. Since working on a computer, I only write when I'm at meetings or when I have no idea what I'm doing - then I'll take out a pencil and a pad of paper and write until I have some sense of what I should do, or at least what I should ask. It's my personal brainstorming session.
Week 6 of Colour Me Positive
Week 6 of Colour Me Positive
My penmanship has never been great, but not as bad as some. I've never had a reason to worry about it until I started making art. As I participate in the Colour Me Positive Journal Challenge, it's become obvious that if I want to use words in my free motion quilting (FMQ), then I had better learn to write - again!

These first couple of efforts weren't too bad. The large writing in my "kindness to all always" pieced was fine, but the words on the fingers needed a little help, especially since I misspelled Smiling (I've always had problems with cursive "n" and "m").

Week 3 of Colour Me Positive
Week 3 of Colour Me Positive
In the "be here now" piece, the link between the letters isn't great, particularly between the "o" and "w" in "now". Since I was mostly practicing my FMQ stitches, I wasn't paying much attention to the letters.

Then came my latest piece for week 14. From the start, the letters were a problem - and there's only one word and four letters!!!

"Once you choose hope, anything can happen" Week 14 of Colour Me Positive
There are a couple of reasons for the problem. The first is that I didn't plan my project. I'm a "jump right in" kind of gal and that's what I did. I made my quilt sandwich, threaded the sewing machine with maroon thread and started outlining the letters.

I really could have removed the letters' stitching and started over, but where's the fun in that! I love fixing things and adapting - and that's what I did. (ok, the sorry truth is that I always hope that it won't be that bad and I'll be able to ignore it!)

So of course, at first I ignored the letters and did some pretty nice FMQ around them. That was fun. Then came the challenge and fixing part. What was I going to do with those letters outlined in maroon?

I decided to hide the sewing by covering the letters with organza and then beading around them. It sure would have been quicker to have removed the thread at the beginning of the project and have started over :-) Placing a few beads here and there is fun. Outlining the word HOPE was painful. I'm just not that patient. After doing one letter, I get in the "Been there, done that" mode. I was SO happy when I finished the outlines.

Title page of my lettering journal
Back to my original thought. This work made it pretty obvious that I needed to learn to write - again. Since looking at everyone's amazing creations on the Facebook page of Colour Me Positive, I've become very impressed with the writing in their art. So how can I do that? Many participants have mentioned Joanne Sharpe, whimsical art maker extraordinaire. I have seen her book and was tempted, but what convinced me was her free video series that goes with the book.

I'm not quite ready to translate my letters to a quilt yet, but it won't be long. I also get to practice my lettering and FMQ every time I have access to a paper and pen. How cool is that?
Applying the Pencil Sketch Technique

Here are a couple of my practice pages. This first one is the pencil sketch technique from her book. I used it to write her mantra - "Play, practice, write, repeat." Replace the word "write" with the word "quilt" or "FMQ" and the saying now applies to quilting.
I found this quote by Ray Bradbury in the book Quilt of Belonging: The Invitation Project by Esther Bryan and Friends. It describes courage, hope and/or faith so well - you still experience fear but you know that you can walk or jump off the cliff and your wings will support you.

I'll be writing about the Quilt of Belonging project after I visit it with my daughter, between June 9-12, in Kingston, Ontario.

What I learned:

  • A little planning when using words in a quilt is not an option - it's necessary. I really hope I remember this!
  • Beading is fun in moderation.
  • Learning from artists in other disciplines is great. It can all be relevant to quilting. It's a great way to broaden my horizons and learn all kinds of new things.
  • My new lettering journal will also be used for free motion quilting designs and for creating writing exercises. What a wonderful journey.

Hope you keep learning and passing it on.



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