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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    Entries in Artist Journey (7)


    Who is an artist?

    We're engaged in looking at our paths as artists this weekend at El Cielo Studio. It's a large group and a diverse one: some of the artists here are painters, mixed media artists, stitchers, program developers and administrators, educators and curriculum writers, potters and movement healers. We are all artists. 

    Seth Godin has a manifesto recently published, "We are all artists now". It may make you mad, it might make you joyous; it will certainly make you think. I was a little irritated at first by the "we are all artists" perspective from a "market expert" (even though I do think we are ALL ARTISTS by birthright) because it seemed to dismiss all the hours and work in polishing my skills and mastering my media.

    But, the more I read it, the more I am challenged to make sure that my art has the emotional risk, the depth and the meaning that it has the potential to be. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead. 

    Read it, and let me know what you think.  

    (And while you're at it, here's another manifesto from Hugh McLeod, the guy who doodles on the back of business cards.)


    Three More Workshops, and That's It for 2013

    Artist's Journey, iPad for Artists and Fearless Sketching

    Wouldn't one of these upcoming El Cielo Workshop/Retreats make a wonderful gift? If no one you know has asked what you really want, perhaps your inner artist needs a restoration, recreation and renewal gift just from you! 

    If you have meant to make it out here to the Hill Country studio before, now's the time to make the commitment --I've decided to take a sabbatical from the El Cielo workshops from May 2013 through April 2014 in order to spend more time in the studio, and to consider other ways to teach and share my approaches to creativity. I will be teaching online, teaching private workshops, and I also anticipate teaching at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2013, but for this year I won't be an instructor at the Southwest School of Art or holding any other workshops here at El Cielo after these next three.

    Early spring (and that often starts here in mid-February!) is a wonderful time out here on the ridge, so check your calendar and shoot me an email if you are interested.
    Limited spaces, as usual, are available, as each of these special events is designed for a maximum of seven participants. The fee is $180, but I am offereing a discount for all who send a deposit before the year is out.
    Out of town participants are welcome to book an extra day or two of private work and consultation for an additional fee. As usual, first come, first choice on accommodations -- there are three private bedrooms ($30 for both nights) and a couple of comfy couches (free) as well as the sleeping porch (also free) and a cot-sized bed and private bath in the studio. The meals are great, the company inspiring and the views spectacular... and the hot tub is ready to go!

    Artist's Journey/Artist's Journal

    How do you make your time and space as an artist work for you? Where are you on your creative path? What do you want more of and what do you need less of? This retreat offers a beginning-of-the-year chance to look at and share your creative accomplishments, make plans for the future and put in place some new tools for reflection, renewal and re-creation of your artist self. The workshop is a combination of journaling with fun mixed media materials, using your own photos for art inspiration, and planning ahead for 2013. All supplies except for a sketchbook or journal are included and you'll take home a large calendar filled with artist dates and your own plans for the year.

    Ipad for Artists

    If you've recently acquired an iPad, this workshop will help you take it into your world of creativity and art.I've explored dozens of sketching tools, art journaling, collage and photo apps and this workshop will take you through some hands-on work -- then into the studio to print, make thermofaxes and use what you've done on the tablet for fabric printing to use in your art quilts, mixed media or other work. If you don't have a tablet yet (and are trying to decide what or if to buy), you may still want to attend, I'll have a try-out table that one or two participants can share (yes, we are a two iPad family!). This El Cielo workshop retreat will take place March 1-3 (optional Friday night potluck) ending about 3 pm on Sunday. The workshop fee, including most supplies, is $180.

    Fearless Sketching

    April 12-14 at El Cielo Studio we'll be attacking that sneaky little fear that so many of us carry into our work from early days in school -- when someone else drew the best faces or people or horses. Whether you consider yourself a talented textile artist, colorist or quilter, you may have a secret lurker within who disparages your drawing skills. I know I do! A couple of years ago, I made a conscious effort to address my fears and to start a fearless sketching practice. I'm still not a master draughtsman, or even "skilled" at drawing, but I am no longer afraid to draw, no longer hypercritical of my abilities and that makes me open to improving my skills. 

    You can get there, too. And this workshop can be your first step-- we test piloted this workhshop in September and all the participants really improved both skills and attitudes about drawing! My friend Sarah Jones will be co-teaching this workshop. She is amazing and fun and so will be the retreat!

    You can find the entire newsletter here at this link.



    Onward Artist's Journey

    The weekend's Artist Journey/Arthist Journal workshop was, again, a wonderful gathering.  We each made posters 9with many differnet sizes of prints to take away) of a slogan, motto or theme for the upcoming year. (Mine, above). With a spattering of writing exercises, some short meditation sittings, a bunch of great meals, and deep conversation about our acomplishments, challenges, work-in-progress and life in general, we left the workshop renewed and with direction and intention. What more can a teacher/facilitator ask?



    The photos here are just a bit of our work. First, Pat's notice to herself:


    My cool calendar, above (each made her own version).

    Pat's artist trading card size verison of her SATISFACTION poster (as shown during production in a screen shot.) an

    PS As a little subnote, anyone who wants more information about why I opposed the current legislation before Congress dealing with internet issues may want to watch this video explanation of the proposed legislation PIPA/SOPA:

    It looks as though the bills are tabled for the time being.


    Are You Still Blank?

    Your journal I mean? The blank book syndrome I call it. We artists often get these lovely gifts of blank books. They can stay that way without conscious effort. I am the last to guilt trip anyone into using a sketchbook or journal. I am erratic, to tell the honest truth. I am frenetic about sketchbooks at time and absolutly immune to their charms at others.

    The key, as I noted in a previous post, is to have a reason. Whether its to make an artful record of one's crative life, or simply to have one spot in which to record, paste, glue, stick and stack all the bits and pieces that float in and out of consciousness (that's usually my approach), a blank book can be your friend.

    Here are a few more ways to approach the use of an artist's sketchbook, blank journal or all-too-precious book of emptiness:

    1. Glue in every scrap of loose paper you can find in your purse or backpack. Alter the papers (unless their content is crucial) with paint, crayons, colored pencils, cutting and wrinkling. See what you can make with nothing.

    2. Save a book to designate for a trip journal. No trip on the horizon. Start planning the dream trip of your artistic creative life. It might even come true. Paste in internet printed documents, research ticket prices, look on AIrBNB bfor the best possible place to stay. Instead of watching another mindless TV show, start planning the dream reality trip of a lifetime. Who knows?

    3. Take a magazine picture, cut it in half, glue it down on a blank page, draw and color the missing half your own way.

    4. Cut colored paper shapes. Glue. Tear out the page, cut and glue again.

    5. Cut and glue a NOTAN a day.

    Other ideas? List them in comments. Thanks

    PS. Still need help? consider coming to El Cielo this next weekend for Artist Journey, Artist Journal. Or one of the other workshops this spring....

    (optional Fri. night potluck & critique session)

    This annual workshop has become a tradition at El Cielo Studio. Spend the weekend in creative activi- ties that help you set the stage for a 2012 filled with productivity, imagination, focus and artistic goals. Using original and time- tested exercises gleaned from sources around the globe, we’ll banish procras- tination, make an annual love letter, work on a goals and artist date calendar for the year, and find ways to remind us of what really matters in our artistic lives. Meanwhile, you’ll work with mixed media and surface design techniques to start your artist’s journal.

    FEBRUARY 10-12

    (optional Friday night potluck & heart-centered gentle yoga session)
    In this workshop, you’ll start with common and familiar symbols -- like the heart shape of Valentine’s Day for example -- and through a series of creative genera- tive exercises, you’ll make something new and differ- ent to incorporate into your design, composition and surface design. And then, in honor of the season, make some one-of-a-kind Valentines, too. Tools and tech- niques explored include paper lamination on fabric, hand-cut stamps, and gelatin plate monoprints.

    MARCH 23-25
    (optional Friday night potluck & work-in-progress critique)

    Spend some time thinking and working on using your inner crew for work and support. In this workshop we’ll explore archetypes, inner voices, gut reactions and their influence on your art and art-making with lots of improvisational exercises to loosen up your approach to art. Make a small artist's altar using fabric and mixed media techniques including mono-printing, collage and digital printing on fabric to remind you of a practical and sacred part of your life. (artist altar frame, $10 supply fee) 

    April 13-15, FROM COMPUTER TO CLOTH.
    And at Southwest School of Art: FINDING YOUR 
    ARTIST VOICE, Monday afternoons, Feb 6-March 26