Category Archives: Inspiration

New Work: Dogs & Cats

My last blog entry was last summer when I gave a teaser about my new work, and now, we’re fully in the winter holiday season. Has it really been that long?  The winter solstice, at our house, is a time to stop and reflect on the events & accomplishments of the closing year, and set goals and expectations for the approaching year.

Body Building

I set a goal last year to lose some weight and get in shape (sound familiar?). My body building efforts were really about  building up a body of new work.

Got Kibble? at CF Gallery opening,

Got Kibble? is just one of the new works that I completed this year.  It was a hands-down favorite at my show in the Creative Framing Gallery in Louisville, CO in Sep-Oct.  Pet compositions are fun to show in the Boulder area is because we are such an animal oriented community.

 

 

Cat Nap, 44″ x 24″, fabric & thread, © Lea McComas, 2018.

Not to be left out, that other favorite pet, the cat, is featured in my new piece, “Cat Nap”.  This work was inspired by a photo I took while traveling in Greece, back in the mid-1990’s.

Pet Portrait class sample

Previously, I completed a couple of small studies using this image.  Two versions were made for my online Pet Portrait class. Here is one with a tetrad color scheme. Prior to that,  a small work was donated to a charity event. Finally, after 20 years, the full up composition has come to fruition. Now, it’s subtle charm makes it one of my new favorites.

Cats VS Dogs?

At the show, a survey of viewers revealed that cats are more popular pets than dogs. Now, I’m getting a lot of pressure (and fun photos) for a series featuring cats.  What about you? Are you a dog person? or a cat person?

I’m thinking dogs rule.

    Cats rule, Dogs drool!

Stay tuned, there is more work to share in a future blog. In the meantime, if you’ve been inspired to attempt your own pet portrait in fabric, check out my online Pet Portrait Memory class with The Quilting Company.

No time for that?!?  I do commission work.  Contact me and let’s talk about capturing a favorite image of your pet in fabric and thread.

Border Wall Quilt Project

Can’t write a blog without mentioning the Border Wall Quilt Project.  We’re still accepting bricks and the wall continues to grow.  

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Daily Art Practice: What’s in it for Me?

© 2017, Lea McComas Fiber Art.

Day 1: Sitting on a Rock and lovin’ life.

Daily Art Series

Everyone says it’s a great experience to engage in a daily art practice; to make a small piece of art, daily, for a period of time. Some do it for 100 hundred days, others for a whole year. I decided, as part of my summer celebration of being home (most of the time) to take time each morning to meditate and reflect on the beauty of the Colorado mountains where I live and then create a prayer flag–daily.

I started my daily art practice on Memorial Day with the intent to continue until Labor Day. (That’s May 29 to September 4, the unofficial summer season here in the US.) It was glorious while it lasted. . . a whole 4 days. That’s when life got in the way. However, I will offer no detailed excuses here.

© 2017, Lea McComas Fiber Art.

Day 2: Storms pass through the valley

Plan Interrupted

Now, it’s been 2 weeks and I still have just 4 flags. Not exactly “Daily Art” However, I do have ideas and have tried to at least put a sketch down on paper each day. I’ve even tried to negotiate with myself, that it’s all OK if I roll into the studio and create a bunch of flags in one day. My game, my rules, Right?!?!

I thought this daily art practice would be a way of slowing down and living a more relaxed and focused life. With that said, I’m questioning whether or not I’m the kind of person who is cut out for this. Am I a free spirit who can’t be tied down with these false constructs? OR. . . Am I just a quitter looking for excuses to get out of something that became inconvenient?

© 2017, Lea McComas Fiber Art.

Day 3: Observing storm damage.

New Plan

I’m not ready to claim either of those labels just yet. This week I’m going back to the daily art practice. I’m going to live with it for a while to see what benefit might emerge. Four days just isn’t enough to make that determination. So, please check back next week to see if what flags I’ve created, and what, if any, insights I’ve gained.

For now, please check out the Naturescapes in my portfolio.  

© 2017, Lea McComas Fiber Art.

Day 4: Fresh, sweet smell of the Fir.

PS: My Game-My Rules

I am going to spend a few hours making all of those designs I came up with last week. They are part of the journey and I am claiming them. MY GAME – MY RULES.

 

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Work in the Studio vs. Walk in the Woods

Time for Studio Art and Time for Play

Lea McComas Fiber Art

Sunrise on the Continental Divide

Two things I just can’t get enough of this time of year are: time in the studio for making art, and warm sunny days for wandering about in the woods. What do you do when life gives you both at the same time??

Progress on my latest piece has felt slow due to multiple interruptions. So when I find myself home alone, except for our dogs, and have no commitments or appointments, I’m ecstatic. YES!! WE’RE GOING TO MAKE SOME PROGRESS TODAY!!

First, I work in the studio…

Lea McComas Fiber Art "Vigil"

Vigil is fully fused

When I wake up to those first hints of sunlight, I shuffle to the coffee pot, and wander into my studio with a sense of urgency and expectation. Surveying a quilt top on the longarm,  gears began to turn. My mind’s eye can see a variety of stitch designs that I will use, thread colors and combinations, and a clear order that they will be laid down on the surface.  I am in the zone.

Lea McComas Fiber Art at work in studio

Lea at the longarm

 

An hour goes by before the dogs remind me that if I don’t feed them and take them out, I’m really going to be sorry. It is then that I get my first smell the pines and see the sun lighting up the mountains.  However, it’s still early, the air is cool and the breeze is chilling, so, “Back inside everyone, there is work to do.”

 

…Then, I walk in the sun.

As the day progresses, so do I.  But the beautiful day unfolding outside is getting harder, and harder to resist. Five hours go by before those pesky dogs are at it again, whining and scratching at my legs. Finally, I’ve had enough. We are out the door.

Lea McComas Fiber Art

Fresh air and sunshine

Being focused and closing myself off to distractions is great, to a point. However, this day has brought me studio time to work AND sunshine to feed the soul. All things in moderation, right??

Check back next week and I’ll show you some closeup photos of the stitch designs that I am using for this piece.  At this moment, my brain is working out how to handle all of that dark background.

Want to immortalize your own special pet?  Check out my Pet Portrait Memory Quilt class at Craft U.

Visit my portfolio to see more thread-paintings.

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I Use Pets to Inspire Others, and Inspired Myself

Pet Portraits

We love our pets, don’t we??  Two years ago we made a frantic, late-night trip to the emergency pet clinic.  Three hours later, we came home without our precious Gretchen.  It was devastating.  That’s why I jumped at the chance this winter to put together a class where my portrait techniques are applied to Pet Portrait Memory Quilts.

I’m a dog person with lots of dog pictures.  However, in this class I wanted to address pet portraits for a variety of animals: cats, birds, horses, in addition to dogs.  So, I put out the call for precious pet photos to my friends and colleagues and found myself with many more great photos than I was able to use for the class.

I made some adorable samples for the course.  A few of them are included in this post.  As you can see, for these, I simplified the compositions.  I did this to teach the techniques and focus on specific art concepts. I’m hoping that students will learn the lessons and then apply them to more complex compositions.

I Inspired Myself

More complex compositions:  now that sounds like advice I should follow myself.  So, I went back through the photos and set aside a few more images for a new series.  The exciting thing for me is that these new compositions will include more context and will tell a larger story.  I’ve chosen some images that address the reasons we have and cherish our pets: loyalty, companionship, comic relief. . .

Last year, I completed Puppy Love.  That will soon be joined by “Vigil.” This second piece in the series is still a work in progress, so stay tuned to see how this piece and the rest of the series develops.

Cat Lovers Stay Tuned

And, if you’re a cat person, don’t worry.  A cat series is soon to follow.

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Admitting I’m Committing to Submitting

Last week a polar explorer, an astronaut, a poetry slam champion, and a former pro football

player all advised me to dream big, step out on faith, and push forward despite setbacks and rejection. I attended a session on Exceptional Career Paths at the Conference of World Affairs in Boulder, Colorado. It has worked for all of them, so I’m going with that, and I’m telling the world so I don’t wimp out.

My big dream is to be an artist whose work touches people around the world. To that end, I’m responding to the prestigious Luxembourg Art Prize call for entry. I already have the full support of my studio mates.

The application process is complex. Where others ask for a single high-resolution photo, they invite the artist to submit multiple photos. Here are some of the detail shots of Busy Signal that I’m able to share.

warm hand tones pop forward against cool shoulder tones

Mouth shaded to create depth and contour

Binding fabrics change to match image.

background fabric created by me.

Rather than a short artist statement, Luxembourg asks for details about process, inspiration, and context. Selected, or not, taking time to think and write about my work has been hugely valuable. I now understand my artist self a bit better and am even more committed to the dream. I’ll share bits of this with you in the weeks to come.

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Placed on hold

Three months ago, my husband and I found, what we believe is our dream home.  We put

Sample 1. I seem to be be wandering aimlessly

Sample 1. I seem to be be wandering aimlessly

in an offer, it was accepted, and …that’s when things got complicated.  Without going into the details, we are still waiting for some issues to be settled.

It was hard to go to the studio to get into a new creative project when I was poised and ready to pack everything up and move with 3 days notice.  But, one week led to another, and the delays continue.  It was like making a phone call and being placed on hold where a voice breaks in periodically, not to help, but to tell you “your business is important so please wait longer.”

Desperate to make art, I decided to temp the fates.  A local guild opened up a workshop with a visiting artist and I was able to grab a space.   The workshop was about working intuitively and quickly.  These are not my strengths.  I need time to process and mull things

Sample 2. feels like a shrine

Sample 2. feels like a shrine

over, so my productivity was

disappointing at the workshop, but I brought home the “beginnings” and left them laying on the work table for another week.  I touched them, look for inspiration on Facebook, moved them around and eventually, began to find my way.  It is exciting when the process builds momentum.  Like falling dominoes, a chain reaction happens.  One thing leads to another.  The photos show my progress.

Sample 3. Going in circles

Sample 3. Going in circles

The rewarding aspect of this process is that it allowed me to work in a series without making a major commitment.  The big take away, for me, was creating a background fabric by fusing squares of one fabric onto another. I used some hand dyed fabrics I created in a previous workshop.

Sample 5. Squares in the background. Sample 6 from cutout leftovers. Kanji reads: "Creativity"

Sample 5. Squares in the background. Sample 6 from cutout leftovers. Kanji reads: “Creativity”

Sample 7. Playing with a bigger background

Sample 7. Playing with a bigger background

Sample 8. more squares with more contrast

Sample 8. more squares with more contrast

I’m going to find a way to incorporate this into a future “real” project.

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Fibonacci Sequence Strip Quilt

This week I want to share with you a quilt made by my friend, Jeanne Lounsbury.  She made a strip quilt for her son using the Fibonacci Sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,…).  When she shared it with our local quilt group, I got really excited and thought others would appreciate it, too.  She used my favorite hues of blue with a pop of red.  Here is the link to the Fibonacci Sequence Strip Quilt video.

I’m currently in the middle of my 2-week winter vacation from school and am thoroughly enjoying the extra time to work in my studio.  Next week, I should be ready to share with you my latest piece.  Stay tuned.

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