Working in the Studio

I’ve been busy.  It feels good to create artwork that is a reflection of 2020, and also shares my state of mind. 


Neighbors, 12 X 32

 I created Neighbors for entry in AVA Art Center’s annual fund raiser, Art Matters. I wanted to use some of my painted fabrics, and also have the mood be upbeat. I was even thinking about past times when we shared a summer picnic meal with our neighbors at tables set up in the street. Lately this piece reminds me of house boats on the water.

Below is a close look at calm fabrics. The patterned pale gray green neutral fabric has made it into many art quilts.

Calm fabrics

Sometimes an idea is born out of the qualities and colors of the fabrics themselves. When I looked at these muted grays, greens, and purples, the fabrics suggested a calm mood, that reminded me of feeling safe. This got me thinking about what makes a person feel safe? Home, job, family, community, dependable transportation, food security, and opportunity.

Monsters, 52 X 36

We are living at a time when the things that make us feel safe are threatened by many monsters: climate change, political discord, systemic racism, economic struggle, and pandemic. In September, there were (and still are) enormous threats from fire. Fire as not seen before is caused by climate change. The monster in the upper right corner of the quilt above is the Climate Change Monster. I decided to channel the perspective of a child. How would little Joanie draw a picture of the monsters? Fire breathing monsters and spears shooting from ugly storm clouds are threatening the house, the bike, the people, the big yellow bowl of opportunity, and the nicely tended vegetable garden.

detail of Monsters

My husband Felix, had not been paying attention to the progress of this piece while I worked on it. So, I was very pleased that when he saw Monsters hanging for the first time, he looked at it for a while and said, “The village is in trouble!”

Well said Felix. Well done Joanie.

My next project is about the emotions of hope and fear. With the election close at hand, these two opposites are felt at the same time. I went to work painting fabrics with hopeful fuchsia and turquoise on white. I show you three details from the piece. Next month I will show you the full view of Hope and Fear.

detail of Hope
detail of Fear
another detail of Hope

I have one more art quilt to talk about. I had painted some plaid fabrics. Did these fabrics suggest anything? Not really. But then I thought about why I had painted them to begin with. I really like plaid! And dots too! And a long list of other things that I lean into, over and over – my favorite things. I went through my stash and pulled out favorite fabrics. Would it be possible, or prudent, to try to make art based on such an odd- ball idea? Too many choices? It would probably need a lot of editing.

The theme is reinforced by the title and by using words as well. It has become a sort of autobiography, and made me think a lot about gratitude. I share one detail from Favorite Things, and will show the full view next month.

Favorite Things detail

Recipe time. I have just invented another pancake. It is loosely based on an oatmeal buttermilk recipe I used years ago. I could not find the recipe card for it, so really have strained my brain to remember the gist of it. This is my new version: Add 3/8 c. coarsely ground buckwheat groats (or 1/2 c. oatmeal) to 1 1/2 c. watery mix of kefir and whey (or use buttermilk). Add 1 t. maple syrup or honey. Stir and set out overnight on the counter. Next day add 3/8 c. millet flour (or other flour), and 1/4 t. each of salt and baking soda. Add more flour until pancake consistency is achieved. Fry on a griddle. For having so few ingredients (and no egg), it is a chewy, tasty, and portable pancake. The slightly sour taste is delightful.


 I have become aware of dust bunnies and a neglected car, paper piles and soiled slip covers.  These things are on, and then off my radar, with no  action taken. There are a limited number of hours in a day and there is a limited supply of energy in a person. So these things usually… Read more »

Summer is here

I know this, because I have switched on a dime, from planting to weeding and mulching. Lots and lots of mulch is CPR for plants. It is how some of those Xeric (native, tough, pronounced zir’ik) plants survive months with almost no water. It is also how to tackle troublesome weeds, such as thistle and… Read more »

Radical Pruning

For weeks now, my response to the pandemic, has been to do lots of radical pruning. What does that mean?  You might think that it means cleaning out my studio or office or some other sort of spring cleaning that many artists spent the month of March doing. I applaud them!  No. My radical pruning… Read more »


People are influenced by what they experience. The current pandemic has many of us even more focused than usual on what it is we want to do with our time, and what we want to say.  I will share with you my newest artwork (created February to mid-March), and what I was thinking about. This… Read more »

Keep Going

In any creative activity, whether it be gardening or building an image of a donkey, it is not easy to know when to stop. Creators in every medium are often warned about this. Art: If you go too far, the paint will become muddy! Poetry: The freshness of an idea might be lost. Cooking: The… Read more »

Just Right

Goldilocks tried out bowls of porridge, chairs and beds, to find the ones that were just right. When this child wandered into the home of the three bears, I assume that the bears were out doing work, or getting their exercise, or attending choir practice. Maybe baby bear was climbing trees or swimming with a… Read more »