Susie Monday

Artist, maker, teacher, author, head cook and bottlewasher.

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The art I make is the result of a life-long love of pattern, texture and color. How I teach is a skill honed by experience (I started teaching creative arts to younger kids when I was 12). After earning a B.A. in Studio Arts from Trinity University, I helped lead an internationally recognized educational foundation, designed curriculum exhibits for schools and other institutions, wrote and edited for a major daily newspaper, opened the San Antonio Children's Museum and then, a dozen years ago, took the scary but essential (for me) leap to become a fulltime artist and art teacher.

About This Blog

This weblog is about the maker's life. The teacher's path. The stitching and dyeing and printing of the craft of art cloth and art quilt. The stumbling around and the soaring, the way the words and the pictures come together. Poetry on the page and in the piecing of bright scraps together. The inner work and the outer journeys to and from. Practicalities and flights of fancy and fearful grandeur, trivial pursuits and tactile amusements. Expect new postings two or three times a week, unless you hear otherwise. 

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    Looking and Seeing

    When one takes on a new endeavor -- I'm looking for a small (read, inexpensive) studio/workshop space/informal gallery, AirBnB offering and overnight in-city haven -- the eyes take on new importance. What we see is so shaped by what we are looking for... and it's remarkable how emotions that we don't really have words for take over. 

    As we've looked at dozens of little houses, condos, thises and thatses in person -- and hundreds online (the real estate market must be as affected -- or more-- by the internet as any other of our modern commercial efforts and activities), my eyes have learned how to read the sites and sights beyond what shows up on the screen. Oh yeah, that looks great, until you see the actual streetview map! And interior photos -- especially those where the residents' belongings are  still in place (or out-of, more likely)-- show a depressing degree of what rampant consumerism has made of the American household. No wonder they want to move, not a square inch to stand in, much less a space to rest the eye upon. The empty houses start looking pretty darn good. I see why house staging has become a career in the realm of house sales on the upper end of the market!

    Amid all this looking, there have been only a couple of places that pass the see-test. I guess it's no surprise, but those couple or three have been houses that speak with their own distinct visual styles. The heartstrings otherwise are disengaged. And, believe me, I want to be practical, to be investment-wise, to pick something that meets all the criteria that I've described in lists and conversations with our realtor who's on the job. But I have a feeling that the heart is going to insist on style, honesty, imagination on the part of the builder (whether in 1910, 1949 or 1977) and at least some sense of potential beyond the present state of affairs. Do I need another project? Hell, no. Will I get one? Probably!

     P.S. NO, we are not leaving the our heavenly space in the country. I will continue to live here and to offer artist retreats out here in the future, alongside the pool, hot tub and 20 mile view into the valley. In fact, a spot just opened up in my Fearless Sketching workshop April  12-14, the last of the workshops for several months. One of the group  who was signed up has family issues to attend to. For info, see the previous post here.


    Teacher Bragging Rights

    Gloria's big flower -- her first ever art quilt!

    Here are a few detail shots of work in progress by the students in the Southwest School of Art class that I just completed. Although most everyone is still working on their "big" art quilt projects, we count the class a success at getting us all (including teacher) moving in the right direction. I'm not listing last names, but I have permission to post these photos!

    Ms. Bidet's exquisite stitching

    Detail of Suzanne's deep dive.


    Detail of Robin's kundalini spine. 


    Rain in the Studio


    I wish!

    We are in the middle of serious drought here, no rain to speak of for months. 

    I added my voice (visually) today, as I started work on a series of Rain Dances. These are a couple of in-progress photos as the day and the ideas developed. This piece is in the vein of a couple of large textile paintings I did several years ago for an exhibit at the Martin Museum of Art at Baylor University. As you can see, I work on a large table rather than a design wall -- I want to be able to put down as many layers of image as I need to and pinning to a wall is just too time consuming. Thus, I stand on a foot stool (or climb an 8 ft ladder) and take a photo when I need to get a better distance view. Works for me!

    This one is going to be called Pond Prayer, I think.

    Here's a little bit of ethnographic info from Wikipedia:

    Julia M. Butree (a wife of Ernest Thompson Seton) in her book,[2] among other Native American dances, describes the "Rain Dance of Zuni."[3] Feathers and turquoise (or any sort of blue shade) are worn during the ceremony to symbolize wind and rain respectively. Many oral traditions of the Rain Dance have been passed down[4] In an early sort ofmeteorology, Native Americans in the midwestern parts of the modern United States often tracked and followed known weather patterns while offering to perform a rain dance for settlers in return for trade items. This is best documented among Osage and Quapaw Indian tribes of Missouri and Arkansas.

    I also found this line beautiful prayer for rain from the Sehardic Jewish tradition:

    "So open, we pray, Thy goodly treasury of rain, to revive all in whom a soul is breathed, as Thou makest the wind to blow and the rain to fall."

    I am expecting this to become a series of ongoing pieces ... I have been searching for a theme that had real meaning to me, and right now, this prayer is that, this dance is that. For all of us in the drought and all of us in the floods, let's have our blessings reversed!


    Pattern Vision and Kids' Minds

    This week's post on BrainPickings today is wonderful -- Maria Popova does her review and reveal about kids and design mind!

    Like Steve Jobs, who famously proclaimed that "creativity is just connecting things," and Paula Scher, who likens creativity to a slot machine, and like other theorists of creative problem-solving, Kinchin emphasized this inherent pattern-recognition gift of the child mind, also manifested in the most impactful design for children:

    Designers, like children, find patterns and make connections. The importance of pattern making and creative play with material things, for children and adults, as a route to understanding spatial relations and problem-solving, as well as creating a sense of the individual in relation to larger cosmic harmonies, comes up again and again in the twentieth century.



    This new book  and this thought particularly scaffold another piece of reinforcment for the ideas we talk about in our book The Missing Alphabet, The Parents' Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids.

    PS: Here's a wonderful site with work by artist/illustrator Gulia Orrachia shared by my friend (also a fiber artist) Diana:

    And another great page in that inspiring blog!