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.

4 Responses to Working in the Studio

Liza Klein

I love neighbors and monsters together. They even have similar background colors. I fear the monsters are not leaving the village soon, but our people, our communities can be strong.

Karin Ebertz

I’m really enjoying your abstract pieces. Your last detail of “Hope” looks like the fabric from an old tablecloth or dresser runner. I have a lot of those from my mother and I don’t know what to do with them without making our house look like a Victorian B & B. Great inspiration!

Joan Sowada

I’ve been thinking of ways to help my community. Our UU church group has not met in any way since March. I just signed up to host meetings. We are a tiny group, but I bet others would like to talk and see friends informally, even if on-line only.

Joan Sowada

Good eye. Some of the fabric is an old linen table cloth that was my grandmother’s at one time, then passed on to an Aunt, and then passed on to me from my cousin. I hope that these ladies are not rolling around in their graves when I start to splash the fabric with paint! Would they also appreciate abstract art? I know that my own mother would have liked my artwork,( before Alzheimers disease).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *